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<   No. 4330   2020-08-28   >

Comic #4330

1 Martian 1: Come on, let’s get our asses to Mars. We need to plan our next wave of attack.
2 Martian 2: Three of us is a wave?
2 Martian 1: That’s why we need wave after wave!
3 Martian 2: But we’re the same specific Martians each time!
4 Martian 1: Right! According to de Broglie, if we’re particular Martians, then we’re also a wave!

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Alternate last two lines:

3 Martian 2: But we’re the same Martians each time, just going back and forth!
4 Martian 1: Right! A standing wave army!

Louis de Broglie was a French physicist who made significant contributions to the development of quantum mechanics in the early 20th century. During his Ph.D. studies, he examined x-rays, and found it useful to adopt Albert Einstein's work which associated some particle properties with the electromagnetic waves. De Broglie began to suspect that not only did waves display particle-like properties, but also vice versa: that particles exhibited some wave-like properties.

In his Ph.D. thesis in 1924, he conjectured that all moving particles had a characteristic wavelength associated with them, given by the Planck constant h divided by the particle's momentum. The less momentum a particle has, the longer the wavelength. The resulting wavelengths are typically very small, much smaller than subatomic particles for macroscopic objects, and only approaching the order of the size of atoms or atomic particles for small particles such as electrons.

And so it is only really with such small particles that one can hope to see any effects of this wave nature. De Broglie was very quickly proved correct by an experiment carried out by Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer at what would later become Bell Labs in the USA. In 1927, they fired slow moving (thus low momentum and long wavelength) electrons at a crystalline nickel target and observed that the electrons were scattered by the crystal planes, forming wave diffraction patterns similar to those observed with x-rays - i.e. patterns that could only be explained by assuming the electrons behaved like waves.

Following this confirmation of his hypothesis, de Broglie was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1929, just five years after completing his Ph.D.

Besides his many contributions to physics, de Broglie was elected to the Académie française in 1944 and served until his death in 1987. He was also the first prominent scientist to suggest the establishment of a multi-national European laboratory for physics, which led to the creation of CERN (and the Large Hadron Collider), and hence ultimately the World Wide Web, Wikipedia, Google, and YouTube.

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