Lectures on Physics has been derived from Benjamin Crowell's Light and Matter series of free introductory textbooks on physics. See the editorial for more information....

A microwave oven

The figure shows two-dimensional (top) and one-dimensional (bottom) representations of the standing wave inside a microwave oven. Gray represents zero field, and white and black signify the strongest fields, with white being a field that is in the opposite direction compared to black. Compare the probabilities of detecting a microwave photon at points A, B, and C.

A and C are both extremes of the wave, so the probabilities of detecting a photon at A and C are equal. It doesn't matter that we have represented C as negative and A as positive, because it is the square of the amplitude that is relevant. The amplitude at B is about 1/2 as much as the others, so the probability of detecting a photon there is about 1/4 as much.

Last Update: 2009-06-21