I was looking at a web site by Hitachi Global concerning “Advanced Research – Electron phase microscopy” today. They have a neat movie based on the diagram of an electron microscope which you can find here:
(link to diagram) http://www.hitachi.com/rd/research/em/doubleslit-f1.html
These pictures are theirs and are copyrighted by them so all that can be done is show you the link.
Here is a link to their video of the results of a 30 minute run (sped up to just a minute or two):
They send electrons one at a time from the source, about 10 per second. Those that make it around the rod are detected and displayed on a monitor.
After about 20 minutes, clear interference patterns develop on the monitor as shown in their video.
The electrons are accelerated through 50,000 volts, and achieve velocities about 40% of the speed of light.
These electrons appear to be passing simultaneously around the barrier and interfering with themselves. Either that or they have some sort of lingering effect due to ctime as I posted in a recent article. I have a new thought:
I believe that there is one obvious answer to such a weird quantum effect – virtual particles. Photons and any particle achieving significant relativistic effects, such as high speed electrons, atoms, molecules, bucky balls, cats, and anything that can be raised to near the speed of light can also produce companion virtual particles – virtual photons, electrons, etc. when their flight paths are significantly disturbed. (Well maybe not cats, but who knows?)
We are getting into new theory here with a new thought experiment! If an electron such as those in an electron microscope is accelerated to a high enough speed is then jostled by close encounter with a small barrier, it will generate an identical virtual electron on the other side of the barrier. This applies to any particle raised to relativistic speeds. If the other side of the barrier is closed off by a detector, then the virtual particle disappears without effect on either the detector or the original electron, being absorbed by the barrier along with the original electron. If the barrier is open, however, it recombines with the electron after passing around the barrier to produce an interference with itself during the recombination process.
It is similar in effect to the process described in my Quantum Weirdness – Part 2 Double Slit Weirdness post whereby the photon melds around a slit. Perhaps it is not a meld but a virtual photon recombination - the effect would be the same.
A photon, or any relativistic electron, or other particle jostled by the fields around atoms in a close encounter with the edges of a slit or other barrier would generate a virtual photon, electron or particle that would appear on the other side of the offending barrier and then recombine at a point downstream to cause an interference. Barriers that block the other side would kill the virtual particle. A particle that did not exist long enough to recombine with its generating particle would die without causing any effect on the offending detector or barrier. Only particles that come close enough to be jostled by the fields of the barrier atoms would generate virtual particles on the other side. Others not close enough to the barrier to be jostled by it would not create the virtual particles.
It is my thought that where there is such jostling, both the particle and its virtual particle might die in the edge of the barrier if one or the other side were not open, and only those electrons that are far enough from the barrier to not create a virtual pair would continue through the open port to the screen, and thus not show any interference pattern.
Only if both sides are open would a virtual pair survive a close encounter with a barrier and then be attracted together to recombine on a path toward a pattern maximum. Scattering around the maximum would be a result of random spacing of near misses and pure chance.
It is another thought that if an electron is buffeted by a barrier and survives the trip but its virtual electron is lost in the material of the barrier, the electron that survives will still be affected by the virtual particle at the point of its destruction, perhaps its phase or displacement or both. It just won’t show an interference pattern, but it would show some effect of the structure of the barrier material at the point the virtual particle is destroyed, making it possible to “see” the structure of the material within the barrier itself. Maybe that is just a description of how an electron phase microscope actually works. The phase is changed by the destruction of the virtual electron and that change depends on the structure at the point the virtual electron lands.
James A. Tabb