Paradoxes Resolved, Origins Illuminated - Consider the lowly photon ...
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shando

Canada
208 Posts

Posted - 21 Jan 2012 :  18:48:59  Show Profile  Visit shando's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I am not sure if this is the appropriate topic, but here goes ...


Thoughts about the photon.

A photon is a quantum of electro-magnetic energy (EM).

A photon is thought to be a disturbance in the light-carrying-medium (LCM).

Photons travel through the LCM at velocity c, the speed of light.

Photons are detected as waves (transverse waves?) in the LCM.

Photons are detected as particles (longitudinal waves in the LCM?).

The wave aspect of photons has a frequency, which is proportional to the energy of the photon.

Photons can be entangled in such a way that the determination of the state of one photon causes an instantaneous

assumption of a predictable state by the related photon, regardless of its location. This implies a connection (in another

dimension?) independent of 3D space.

Is there a maximum limitation on photonic intensity (an upper limit on the photons per centimeter squared) at the point

of emission?

Is there space between photons from the same source, far away from the source (the photonic intensity per cm^2

should decrease proportional to 1/4piR^2 where R is the distance from the source)?

If a photon encounters opaque (for its frequency) matter, it may be reflected, or it may be absorbed, in which case it's energy is converted to some other form.

As the photon proceeds through space there is some non-zero loss of energy, probably due to friction within the LCM.

This change in energy is manifest as a change (reduction) in the frequency of the EM wave aspect of the photon over

distance.

How far will a photon travel (until its EM frequency becomes zero?)? This must be the fate of almost all the photons, however generated, within the universe.

What happens to the energy contained in the photons that never encounter matter?

Answer: The energy of dead photons is obviously absorbed by the LCM. (Does the LCM consist of dead photons then?)

Is this the source of zero-point energy (ZPE)?

I am feeling a bit confused. Please label any of the above assertions true or false and feel free to respond to any of the questions.

Thanks


Edited by - shando on 24 Jan 2012 08:49:03

Jim

1830 Posts

Posted - 24 Jan 2012 :  13:33:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The intensity of a photon is related to it's area-right? Billions of photons per unit of area equals intensity of a beam of energy-right? The limits of intensity are unknown at this time. Maybe laser beams made by humans are beyond any intensity existing in nature anywhere in the universe. What is the current record for a laser intensity?
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shando

Canada
208 Posts

Posted - 03 Mar 2012 :  13:24:03  Show Profile  Visit shando's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Viscosity = k * dE/dL k=constant; dE=change in kinetic energy; dL=change in length of path through fluid.

Assertation: The viscosity of the LCM is small but not-zero.

Evidence: LCM is entrained by large bodies such as planets. If the viscosity were zero there would be no entrainment.

Evidence: The energy of photons decreases in proportion to distance travelled. Although the velocity of the photon is maintained, the frequency of the photon is decreased as energy is shed due to the viscosity of the LCM. In other words, the red-shift is caused by distance travelled through the LCM, not because of universe expansion.

Evidence: Thus at some point (after travelling some billions of light years) the energy of the photon is exhausted, absorbed by the LCM. Otherwise, the sky would be aglow 24/7 due to the photons continuing to circulate throughout the universe, their paths deflected by gravity from large masses, forever.

Speculation: the zero-point-energy of "empty space" may be due to the accumulated energy from the exhausted photons.
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Larry Burford

USA
2188 Posts

Posted - 06 Mar 2012 :  09:56:49  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
(1) LB COMMENTS ADDED 03/06
(2) LB COMMENTS ADDED 03/07
(3) LB COMMENTS ADDED 03/08
(4) LB COMMENTS ADDED 03/08

[Shando]

  • A photon is a quantum of electro-magnetic energy (EM).

  • A photon is thought to be a disturbance in the light-carrying-medium (LCM).

  • Photons travel through the LCM at velocity c, the speed of light.


(1)
Mathematically, EM energy can be treated as either a particle (quantum) or a wave. Which model you chose depends on what you are looking at and why you are looking at it. Some questions are easier to answer if you use the wave model, others are easier if you use the quantum model. Some questions can be answered with both modles. Some other questions can only be answered with one or the other.

Physically it is probably more accurate to think of EM energy as a wave.

  • Photons are detected as waves (transverse waves?) in the LCM.

  • Photons are detected as particles (longitudinal waves in the LCM?).


(1)
It is probably more accurate to say that EM energy (as transverse waves) propagates through the LCM. We never really "detect" them while they are traveling. The act of "detecting" EM energy terminates its travel through the universe. A detector can be very simple (a patch of dirt, or a dust particle floating in the air) or very sophisticated (a highly purified crystaline material with precise post-purification processing). However a detection event happens, the EM energy is destroyed (converted into something else - perhaps an electron with more energy than it previously had?).

I do not think any longtudinal wave phenomena associated with EM energy have been observed. I'm pretty sure there is no known theoretical reason preventing it, hovwever. In general waves travel as either transverse or longitudinal but not both.

One obvious exception is surface waves, which always propagate as an approximate 50-50 mixture of the transverse and longitudinal modes. But surface waves are rare in the universe, because they can only occur at a boundary (surface) between two differing media. We happen to live next to several such boundaries, so we tend to forget that surface waves are much less common than bulk waves.

I believe there is also some mixed mode behavior when waves are observed close (less than wavelength?) to their source.

Some media (the fluids, such as water or plasma) can only support longitudinal wave propagation. Other media (the solids) can support both longitudinal and transverse waves. The two modes propagate at different speeds in any given media.

And yes, this does mean that the LCM must behave like a solid. At least in some ways. I sure hope we can start detecting the particles soon. Studying elysium and elysions is going to produce some very cool physics.


  • The wave aspect of photons has a frequency, which is proportional to the energy of the photon.

  • Photons can be entangled in such a way that the determination of the state of one photon causes an instantaneous assumption of a predictable state by the related photon, regardless of its location. This implies a connection (in another dimension?) independent of 3D space.


(1)
Maybe. Do not forget that any conclusion we reach is, and must be, theory (model) dependent. Most experiments involving quantum effects are based on statistical analysis. (It is very hard to isolate a single particle and then hold on to it long enough to do something to it.) A few single particle experiments have been done. But in general we process a large number of particles and make a lot of assumptions to get to an answer about one particle. This approach can and does produce useful information, but it also usually makes my BS detector nervous.




  • Is there a maximum limitation on photonic intensity (an upper limit on the photons per centimeter squared) at the point of emission?


(2)
Not in terms fo the math, of course. (Math is cool in that way.) But physically there must be limits of some sort. Higher intensity means higher power, and at some point that power will be enough to melt or vaporize the matter involved in producing the EM energy. (The lens in a high energy laser system, for example.)

But vaporized matter can also be a source of EM energy, and if you collect enough in one spot (a star) the intensity moves upward dramatically. So we have a new limit to search for.

There has to be a limit, physically. The more intense a light beam is, the more you have to wiggle the particles of the particle field that the beam propagates within. Whatever it is that connects each particle to its neighbors will eventually be overwhelmed. Increasing inensity beyond this point probably cannot happen.

Hmm. It is possible that this "connection" between particles of the medium can be stronger in some places than in others. And that could lead to a beam of light that loses intensity in a non-linear way as it moves from a volume of relatvely high connection strength to a volume of relatively low strength.


  • Is there space between photons from the same source, far away from the source (the photonic intensity per cm^2 should decrease proportional to 1/4piR^2 where R is the distance from the source)?


(2)
Once again, it is probably more realistic (more like physical reality) to think of EM energy as a wave propagating through a medim than as a particle traveling through that medium (or throuogh nothing).

  • If a photon encounters opaque (for its frequency) matter, it may be reflected, or it may be absorbed, in which case it's energy is converted to some other form.


(2)
Yes. This is what happens when we "detect" EM energy.

Indirect "detection" is also possible, but does not change the energy. You can arrange two or more beams of light so that they occupy the same volume of space at the same time, then go on to a physical detector for each beam. You are not actually "detecting" anything in this volume of space, but you do know that multiple beams of energy are present.

You can tell from the physical detections that occur later, and at different locations, that having occupied the same volume of space with other beams did not change any of the beams.

Beams made of actual particles (electrons, for example) that travel through space or through a medium do not behave this way. They break up when they hit each other. This is why particle colliders work.


  • As the photon proceeds through space there is some non-zero loss of energy, probably due to friction within the LCM.

  • This change in energy is manifest as a change (reduction) in the frequency of the EM wave aspect of the photon over distance.


    • How far will a photon travel (until its EM frequency becomes zero?)? This must be the fate of almost all the photons, however generated, within the universe.


    (3)
    EM energy will probably lose all of its amplitude before it loses all of its freqency.

    For a real world experiment, drop a pebble in still water and watch the surface waves expand outward. As they become too small to see they will still have essentially the same wavelength (frequency) they started with.

    Keep in mind that surface waves are different from transverse waves, so EM waves might behave differently. If they do, the difference (for the context of this analogy) is probably small.


    • What happens to the energy contained in the photons that never encounter matter?

    • Answer: The energy of dead photons is obviously absorbed by the LCM. (Does the LCM consist of dead photons then?)


    (2)
    The LCM - if it exists - comprises real, physical particles. That means these particles must have a volume and a mass. Photons, dead or alive, fail this test.

    BTW, the LCM is not the only medium available for absorbing energy from EM waves.


  • Is this the source of zero-point energy (ZPE)?





    • Viscosity = k * dE/dL k=constant; dE=change in kinetic energy; dL=change in length of path through fluid.


    • Assertation: The viscosity of the LCM is small but not-zero.


    (4)
    This easly works in the strict mathematical sense, as you have defined it here. Just keep in mind that in the physical sense this equation will have a wildly different meaning in the context of the LCM than, for example, in the context of air or ranch dressing.

    We are still trying to work out an internally consistant set of physical properties for the LCM that will allow it to account for the observational and experimental data that mankind has collected to date.

    (If such a set canot be found, then the concept of the LCM is probably falsified.)

    Here is a very brief summary of our conclusions so far. Little attempt is made here to show supporting evidence.


      LCM has properties similar to a contained plasma:

      • each particle strongly repels all other particles

      • due to containment, the overall medium exists at some non-zero pressure

      • that pressue is probably very "high" (whatever that means in this context?)

      • this gives the medium a stiffness similar in some ways to that of a crystal


      LCM has properties similar to a crystaline solid:

      • each particle is stationary relative to all of its neighbors

      • if we extrapolate from wave-speed-versus-stiffness for solids made from normal sized matter, the stiffness needed by the LCM to propagate waves at 300,000 km/sec is about 10^5 times the stiffness of steel

      • under some conditions neighborhoods can move relative to neighborhoods

      • The boundary zones between such neighborhoods might produce detectable anomalies in EM waves that have passed through them


      LCM has other properties:

      • The particles do not combine into molecule-like structures

      • The particles are small enough to penetrate normal sized matter

      • The particles are never in direct contact - typical center to center separation is likely to be several thousand particle diameters, but could be much more

      • TBD






  • Evidence: LCM is entrained by large bodies such as planets. If the viscosity were zero there would be no entrainment.


  • Evidence: The energy of photons decreases in proportion to distance travelled. Although the velocity of the photon is maintained, the frequency of the photon is decreased as energy is shed due to the viscosity of the LCM. In other words, the red-shift is caused by distance travelled through the LCM, not because of universe expansion.


  • Evidence: Thus at some point (after travelling some billions of light years) the energy of the photon is exhausted, absorbed by the LCM. Otherwise, the sky would be aglow 24/7 due to the photons continuing to circulate throughout the universe, their paths deflected by gravity from large masses, forever.


  • Speculation: the zero-point-energy of "empty space" may be due to the accumulated energy from the exhausted photons.
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    shando

    Canada
    208 Posts

    Posted - 06 Mar 2012 :  13:36:43  Show Profile  Visit shando's Homepage  Reply with Quote
    >> Some media (the fluids, such as water or plasma) can only support longitudinal wave propagation.

    Hmmm ... what about sound waves conducted through water? The sound of a rock hitting the water travels about 1,484 m/s (15 deg C) in the water, far quicker than the speed of the surface waves will spread out. The surface wave is a transverse wave, yes?

    Edited by - shando on 07 Mar 2012 00:27:03
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    Larry Burford

    USA
    2188 Posts

    Posted - 06 Mar 2012 :  15:29:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    Sounds about right. Sound is a longitudinal wave in the bulk of the medium. In general it does propagate at a different speed than surface waves.
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    Jim

    1830 Posts

    Posted - 06 Mar 2012 :  20:29:25  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    The above comments about photons clearly show the confusion Plank's bundle and the photon have always generated. We have a defined and well documented unit I think makes sense to call a photon. And we have a huge and undefined bundle of photons given in Plank's work derived from earlier work. I don't see how you progress with any good model until at least these two details are cleared up.
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    Larry Burford

    USA
    2188 Posts

    Posted - 07 Mar 2012 :  09:18:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    (new comments at my reply to Shando, above)
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    Larry Burford

    USA
    2188 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  11:30:43  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    Jim,

    The concept of the photon does contribute to the general level of confusion in scientific discourse. Part of this comes from the concept itself, and part of it comes from a misunderstanding of the concept, or parts of the concept, by specific individuals. Pretty much everyone is at fault, so no finger pointing is intended here. I just mean that each of us will have a slightly different amount of (mis)understanding of any given concept.

    Every model (theory) has both a math aspect and a physics aspect. To the extent that we recognize, consciously, which parts of the model are physical and which are conceptual we move the level of confusion downward. Conversely, the level of confusion rises as we neglect expending the effort to consciously, EXPLICITLY, make this distinction.

    But we do (all of you ... er us - dangit) neglect this chore, frequently. Because it is a chore. It takes real work (mental and physical) to do this. To think the extra words needed to remind ourselves of this dichotomy. To speak or write these extra words to remind others.

    (The majority of the work involved here is, of course, that needed to learn enough about the topic to be able to correctly MAKE the distinction in the first place.)

    And having thought or spoken or written these extra words ... we must then expend more effort thinking/speaking/writing about what they mean.

    Science is fun. Good science is also work.

    sigh

    LB
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    Larry Burford

    USA
    2188 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  11:50:16  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    [Jim]"I don't see how you progress with any good model until at least these two details are cleared up."

    In the case of the photon, this clearing-up of details probably begins with a personal decision: "Do I think EM energy moves around the universe as a particle, or as a wave?"

    Picking one or the other does not make you right. Or wrong.[1] It just helps you think about EM energy. And when you talk to others about it, it helps them understand you.

    *** IF you take the time to mention it. ***

    Have you decided? (Based on your writings here, I'd guess that you think in terms of a particle. But I'm not sure, so I usually have some doubt in my mind about what you mean.)

    ===

    Hmmm. Is there anyone in the audience that is not sure about my thinking on this topic?

    [1]
    Well, actually I guess it does. But at this time we do not know with certainty which is which.
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    Larry Burford

    USA
    2188 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  12:11:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    (new comments at my reply to Shando, above)
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    Jim

    1830 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  13:26:42  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    LB, I have a dim opinion of both views about energy. I do think all photons have the exact same energy equal to the electronic charge. It is photon force that needs to be explored-not it's energy. It is not all that different, but, thinking of force allows more freedom for thinking itself. Why bind yourself to to age old wave/particle dogma? What is gained in any of the "is too/is not" games people play?
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    Larry Burford

    USA
    2188 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  14:19:36  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    [Jim] "... thinking of force [rather than energy] allows more freedom for thinking itself."

    Climbing out of the box is good. But then you climb into another box, and imagine you have freed yourself? I'm not sure I understand.

    ===

    Force. Energy. Power. Torque. Acceleration. They are all boxes. Boxes "box us in". But they also shield us from extraneous distractions.

    Most questions can be explored with more than one tool. Rather than limit yourself to one or the other, learn to look at the world (actually, at the specific part of the world you are exploring at any given time) from several perspecives. If you get the same answer from several tools, there is at least the suggestion that you are looking in the right direcion. If each tool gives you a different aswer, it is almost certain you are not.

    ===

    No guarantees, of course. Our ability to fool ourselves is quite discouraging.
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    Larry Burford

    USA
    2188 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  14:23:40  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    [Jim] "It is photon force that needs to be explored-not it's energy."

    Hmm. Sounds like it might be a useful way to approach it. Question - what's the difference between photon force and wave force?
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    shando

    Canada
    208 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  14:30:54  Show Profile  Visit shando's Homepage  Reply with Quote
    LB>> EM energy will probably lose all of its amplitude before it loses all of its frequency.

    Thanks LB - I have learned something. I didn't realize that an individual photon could lose energy through amplitude reduction.

    I thought that the quantum nature of the photon (one quantum of EM energy, by definition) meant that the energy content of an individual photon is irreducible through loss of amplitude.

    I thought that the "amplitude" of an EM wave is proportional to the density of photons making up the wave, and the loss of amplitude over distance is the result of the photon density decreasing as the wave spreads out from its source - not because of a decrease in the amplitude of the individual photons making up the wave. (Hence my questions about "photon density" at the beginning.)

    I concluded that any loss of energy by an individual photon would show up as a reduction in frequency of the wave aspect of the photon - which is the red-shift that is observed.

    Edited by - shando on 08 Mar 2012 20:34:04
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    Larry Burford

    USA
    2188 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  15:38:26  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    [Shando] "I didn't realize that an individual photon could lose energy through amplitude reduction."

    (be careful about the particle names - photons and protons)
    (I strongly recommend that everyone re-read every post several times before pushing the button, looking for typos and better wording)

    If a photon really is a physical particle, it probably can't lose energy this way. But it probably couldn't really have zero mass, either.

    [Shando] "I concluded that any loss of energy by an individual photon would show up as a reduction in frequency of the wave aspect of [[[the]]] photon - which is the red-shift that is observed."

    The observed red shift of astronomical bodies is not from individual photons, it is from continuous waves.

    (Do all of the individual photons lose the same energy, and thus have the same individual red shift? If so, how would that work? If not, wouldn't we see a frequency "smear"?)

    When talking about a bulk phenomenon like red shift it just makes so much more sense to think in terms of propagating waves rather than traveling particles.

    At least to me.

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    shando

    Canada
    208 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  20:58:24  Show Profile  Visit shando's Homepage  Reply with Quote
    quote:
    Originally posted by Larry Burford


    (be careful about the particle names - photons and protons)
    (I strongly recommend that everyone re-read every post several times before pushing the button, looking for typos and better wording)



    I can't believe I did that - I re-read it at least 5 times!

    quote:

    If a photon really is a physical particle, it probably can't lose energy this way. But it probably couldn't really have zero mass, either.



    I don't understand the basis for this statement. What are the ways it could lose energy?

    Would you agree that if the photon exists, it's amplitude cannot change and any change in energy is reflected as a change in the frequency of its wave aspect?


    quote:

    The observed red shift of astronomical bodies is not from individual photons, it is from continuous waves.



    Hmmm ... continuous waves of what?

    Photons, of course, the frequency of which has been observed to have shifted to a lower level, reflecting the loss of energy enroute.

    quote:

    (Do all of the individual photons lose the same energy, and thus have the same individual red shift? If so, how would that work? If not, wouldn't we see a frequency "smear"?)



    The photons making up the "continuous wave" have all traveled the same distance through the same LCM so why would their red-shift differ?
    quote:


    When talking about a bulk phenomenon like red shift it just makes so much more sense to think in terms of propagating waves rather than traveling particles.

    At least to me.




    I have no bias: particles or wavelets are fine by me, I consider them aspects of an object that we don't understand - like the elephant and the blind men.
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    Jim

    1830 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  21:00:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    Red shift is way too complicated a topic to bring into this thread. Why not also get bogged down with heat,radio and gamma rays? Way too much area to cover.
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    shando

    Canada
    208 Posts

    Posted - 08 Mar 2012 :  21:05:29  Show Profile  Visit shando's Homepage  Reply with Quote
    quote:
    Originally posted by Jim

    Red shift is way too complicated a topic to bring into this thread.



    Here is the paragraph describing this thread:

    The big bang (BB) theory is widely accepted because redshift in distant objects is seen as evidence for an expanding universe. But how strong are the cases for and against the BB? Are we even sure that redshift corresponds to expansion velocity?

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    Larry Burford

    USA
    2188 Posts

    Posted - 09 Mar 2012 :  11:50:45  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    [Shando] "What are the ways it could lose energy?"

    A real physical particle can lose energy by slowing down. Or by moving closer to the center of a force field (without gaining relative speed). Or by radiating EM (or other) energy. And that is about it.

    ===

    I suppose it could also lose energy by shedding some mass. But then it becomes possible to claim it is no longer the same particle. Not sure about this one. A star does it, and we continue thinking of it as the same particle. An atomic nucleus does it, and we stop thinking of it as the same particle.

    So, photons cannot be real physical particles?

    We can treat EM energy, mathematically, as if it is. (Math is cool that way.) But then we have to avoid explaining the physical basis for the wave-like properties if it is not waves. Or say that it can be both. And which one it is, right now, depends on how you look at it.

    And then wonder about issues like I brought up. If one photon loses some frequency now and another photon near by does not lose some frequency for several microseconds (or maybe seconds, or hours?), would we not notice?

    No two photons will have exactly the same history, so such random variations among individuals must happen.

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    Jim

    1830 Posts

    Posted - 10 Mar 2012 :  19:31:22  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
    Maybe a better way to look at energy is to consider a one joule energy packet. One joule of energy is almost too small to notice in the every day world. One joule of energy can be located anywhere on the electromagnetic spectrum. If we put the packet at a frequency of ~10E11hz it will warm a very tiny mass a very little. If placed at ~10E14hz it will light a small area for a second. If placed at 10E20hz it will kill a horse. That is a result of force as the energy never changes. The packet of energy has force related to the frequency and that force causes different effects related to frequency.
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