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Thread: Photons Behaving As a Wave

  1. #1 Photons Behaving As a Wave 
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    To preface this question, I am fourteen and have only recently discovered my love for physics, so please excuse my lack of knowledge at this point.

    My questions is regarding light behaving as a wave, as confirmed by the double slit experiment. Dr Michio Kaku, in one of his books, raised the issue of how light would interact with matter within a vacuum (to put it in the simplest terms, what matter would the light essentially wave on. i.e sound travels in waves throughout the oxygen in our air, ocean waves interact with the water they are apart of). So my question is, should we only assume that light moves in waves when in contact with matter (i.e here on Earth)? Shouldn't we have to perform an experiment in the vacuum of space to be certain that light behaves as a wave? Though, it's very probable that I am way of basis here.

    Thanks for your time


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    Quote Originally Posted by loganrogers View Post
    To preface this question, I am fourteen and have only recently discovered my love for physics, so please excuse my lack of knowledge at this point.

    My questions is regarding light behaving as a wave, as confirmed by the double slit experiment. Dr Michio Kaku, in one of his books, raised the issue of how light would interact with matter within a vacuum (to put it in the simplest terms, what matter would the light essentially wave on. i.e sound travels in waves throughout the oxygen in our air, ocean waves interact with the water they are apart of). So my question is, should we only assume that light moves in waves when in contact with matter (i.e here on Earth)? Shouldn't we have to perform an experiment in the vacuum of space to be certain that light behaves as a wave? Though, it's very probable that I am way of basis here.

    Thanks for your time
    I don't have any of Kaku's books, so I don't know what he actually wrote. However, I suspect that you misunderstood what he was trying to say (or what I hope he was trying to say). Sound requires air as a medium for propagation, so it does not travel in a vacuum. However, light is different. It does not require a medium to propagate, so we're able to see the sun and the other stars in the sky.

    Light has both a wave and particle nature. Which aspect it evinces depends on the experiment you perform. We can devise experiments in which it seems to act like a particle, and other experiments in which it acts like a wave. Until we perform an experiment (which requires interaction of some kind), we don't have any way of saying what it "is." So, in between emission and detection, one cannot say how light is behaving; the question is actually meaningless (as disturbing as that may seem).


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by loganrogers View Post
    To preface this question, I am fourteen and have only recently discovered my love for physics, so please excuse my lack of knowledge at this point.

    My questions is regarding light behaving as a wave, as confirmed by the double slit experiment. Dr Michio Kaku, in one of his books, raised the issue of how light would interact with matter within a vacuum (to put it in the simplest terms, what matter would the light essentially wave on. i.e sound travels in waves throughout the oxygen in our air, ocean waves interact with the water they are apart of). So my question is, should we only assume that light moves in waves when in contact with matter (i.e here on Earth)? Shouldn't we have to perform an experiment in the vacuum of space to be certain that light behaves as a wave? Though, it's very probable that I am way of basis here.

    Thanks for your time
    Just to add a bit to tk421's reply, the reason light doesn't need a medium is that it consists of an alternating electric field and a corresponding alternating magnetic field, at right angles to each other (both at right angles to the direction of travel of the light). So they are oscillations of fields in space rather than of any medium. There's a diagram of it towards the bottom of this Wiki article: Light - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    There was a famous experiment done at the end of the c.19th, called the Michelson Morley experiment, which showed that the speed of light did not depend on the speed or direction of travel of the Earth through space. This implied that there could not be any medium in space responsible for propagating light waves. Which fitted Maxwell's theory of light and was one of the things that started to open the door to relativity. Michelson
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by loganrogers View Post
    To preface this question, I am fourteen and have only recently discovered my love for physics, so please excuse my lack of knowledge at this point.

    My questions is regarding light behaving as a wave, as confirmed by the double slit experiment. Dr Michio Kaku, in one of his books, raised the issue of how light would interact with matter within a vacuum (to put it in the simplest terms, what matter would the light essentially wave on. i.e sound travels in waves throughout the oxygen in our air, ocean waves interact with the water they are apart of). So my question is, should we only assume that light moves in waves when in contact with matter (i.e here on Earth)? Shouldn't we have to perform an experiment in the vacuum of space to be certain that light behaves as a wave? Though, it's very probable that I am way of basis here.

    Thanks for your time
    Just to add a bit to tk421's reply, the reason light doesn't need a medium is that it consists of an alternating electric field and a corresponding alternating magnetic field, at right angles to each other (both at right angles to the direction of travel of the light). So they are oscillations of fields in space rather than of any medium. There's a diagram of it towards the bottom of this Wiki article: Light - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    There was a famous experiment done at the end of the c.19th, called the Michelson Morley experiment, which showed that the speed of light did not depend on the speed or direction of travel of the Earth through space. This implied that there could not be any medium in space responsible for propagating light waves. Which fitted Maxwell's theory of light and was one of the things that started to open the door to relativity. Michelson
    The Michelson and Morley Experiment ("MMX") was carried out in 1887. At that time data concerning the nature and behavior of subatomic energy units was nothing like it is now. Yet Physics Theory still treats the theoretic assumptions that in 1887 formed the basis for the MMX as being unquestionably valid, and perpetuates the conclusions from the MMX, and the resulting new theories, Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity (which hinge on the non-existence of a force-transmitting medium in space) as being as beyond question as ever.

    I submit that especially the key asssumption of M&M - that a spatial medium would be of a nature that would necessarily possess a demonstrable "wind"-type property - should be re evaluated as to its credibility in the light of modern data concerning the existence of sub-atomic forces M&M were unaware of in their time, and implications as to the possibility of a still-more-finely-tuned medium in space (mediated by forces more finely tuned than the empirically defined quantum and subquantum forces). Yet no one seems interested in such a re-evaluation.

    An increasing number of observers now consider the existence of such a medium in space to be self evident, in view of phenomena such as action at a distance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Anteski View Post
    An increasing number of observers now consider the existence of such a medium in space to be self evident, in view of phenomena such as action at a distance.

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    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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    Michael, how many times do you have to be asked to keep your pseudoscience out of the hard science areas? It's still crap no matter how many ways or times you repost it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Anteski View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by loganrogers View Post
    To preface this question, I am fourteen and have only recently discovered my love for physics, so please excuse my lack of knowledge at this point.

    My questions is regarding light behaving as a wave, as confirmed by the double slit experiment. Dr Michio Kaku, in one of his books, raised the issue of how light would interact with matter within a vacuum (to put it in the simplest terms, what matter would the light essentially wave on. i.e sound travels in waves throughout the oxygen in our air, ocean waves interact with the water they are apart of). So my question is, should we only assume that light moves in waves when in contact with matter (i.e here on Earth)? Shouldn't we have to perform an experiment in the vacuum of space to be certain that light behaves as a wave? Though, it's very probable that I am way of basis here.

    Thanks for your time
    Just to add a bit to tk421's reply, the reason light doesn't need a medium is that it consists of an alternating electric field and a corresponding alternating magnetic field, at right angles to each other (both at right angles to the direction of travel of the light). So they are oscillations of fields in space rather than of any medium. There's a diagram of it towards the bottom of this Wiki article: Light - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    There was a famous experiment done at the end of the c.19th, called the Michelson Morley experiment, which showed that the speed of light did not depend on the speed or direction of travel of the Earth through space. This implied that there could not be any medium in space responsible for propagating light waves. Which fitted Maxwell's theory of light and was one of the things that started to open the door to relativity. Michelson
    The Michelson and Morley Experiment ("MMX") was carried out in 1887. At that time data concerning the nature and behavior of subatomic energy units was nothing like it is now. Yet Physics Theory still treats the theoretic assumptions that in 1887 formed the basis for the MMX as being unquestionably valid, and perpetuates the conclusions from the MMX, and the resulting new theories, Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity (which hinge on the non-existence of a force-transmitting medium in space) as being as beyond question as ever.

    I submit that especially the key asssumption of M&M - that a spatial medium would be of a nature that would necessarily possess a demonstrable "wind"-type property - should be re evaluated as to its credibility in the light of modern data concerning the existence of sub-atomic forces M&M were unaware of in their time, and implications as to the possibility of a still-more-finely-tuned medium in space (mediated by forces more finely tuned than the empirically defined quantum and subquantum forces). Yet no one seems interested in such a re-evaluation.

    An increasing number of observers now consider the existence of such a medium in space to be self evident, in view of phenomena such as action at a distance.
    Crank hijack attempt.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tk421 View Post
    Light has both a wave and particle nature. Which aspect it evinces depends on the experiment you perform. We can devise experiments in which it seems to act like a particle, and other experiments in which it acts like a wave. Until we perform an experiment (which requires interaction of some kind), we don't have any way of saying what it "is." So, in between emission and detection, one cannot say how light is behaving; the question is actually meaningless (as disturbing as that may seem).

    So, one cannot visualize a photon without leaving out either its wave characteristic or its particle nature?
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Anteski View Post
    The Michelson and Morley Experiment <snip> as action at a distance.
    Moderator Action: You have been asked to restrict your personal, unsubstantiated, non-peer reviewed opinions on physics to the Personal Hypotheses or pseudo-science sub-forums. I believe you have been asked to do this more than once. I am giving you two days rest to consider what that request means and what the consequences of ignoring it are.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Anteski View Post
    The Michelson and Morley Experiment ("MMX") was carried out in 1887.
    Anteski appears to want to suggest that these guys did an experiment a long time ago and everyone just accepted it. Sadly, that is not how scientists work. They want to test (i.e. prove wrong) other people's results. That is where the fame and Nobel Prizes lie.

    The MM experiment, and many variations of it, has been carried out many times since then. Also, many different experiments that also test Lorentz invariance have also been carried out over the years. Some of these have (from memory) achieved levels of accuracy like 1 part in 1036.

    At that time data concerning the nature and behavior of subatomic energy units was nothing like it is now.
    True. But utterly irrelevant.

    Yet Physics Theory still treats the theoretic assumptions that in 1887 formed the basis for the MMX as being unquestionably valid, and perpetuates the conclusions from the MMX, and the resulting new theories, Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity (which hinge on the non-existence of a force-transmitting medium in space) as being as beyond question as ever.
    As noted above, this is not true. (I assume this is ignorance rather than an attempt to mislead.)

    I submit that especially the key asssumption of M&M - that a spatial medium would be of a nature that would necessarily possess a demonstrable "wind"-type property
    Not that some versions of the experiment, such as the MM experiment, rule out a stationary aether. Other forms of the experiment rule out various forms of aether drag or wind. After all the different experiments, there is no where left for the aether to hide.

    should be re evaluated as to its credibility in the light of modern data concerning the existence of sub-atomic forces M&M were unaware of in their time, and implications as to the possibility of a still-more-finely-tuned medium in space (mediated by forces more finely tuned than the empirically defined quantum and subquantum forces). Yet no one seems interested in such a re-evaluation.
    The experiment has been repeated, and the results re-analysed with various different models, many times over the years. The results are always entirely consistent with general relativity. Sorry.

    An increasing number of observers now consider the existence of such a medium in space to be self evident, in view of phenomena such as action at a distance.
    I assume you made this "fact" up.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by tk421 View Post
    Light has both a wave and particle nature. Which aspect it evinces depends on the experiment you perform. We can devise experiments in which it seems to act like a particle, and other experiments in which it acts like a wave. Until we perform an experiment (which requires interaction of some kind), we don't have any way of saying what it "is." So, in between emission and detection, one cannot say how light is behaving; the question is actually meaningless (as disturbing as that may seem).

    So, one cannot visualize a photon without leaving out either its wave characteristic or its particle nature?
    I would state it a bit differently: One cannot properly visualize light if you leave out either its wave or particle nature. The famous double-slit experiment captures the duality in a compelling way. If you reduce the intensity so that individual photons are being generated at, say, a rate of one per second, one gets the expected pattern of Pollock-like dots at the detector. But as the dots build up, an interference pattern of light and dark bands emerges. And if one places a detector in front of the slits to detect which slit a photon goes through, the interference pattern disappears.

    One of my instructors liked to answer our questions about whether light was a particle or a wave this way: "Imagine you only know English and German. One day you meet someone from Amsterdam. Some words sound like English, others like German. You cannot answer whether it is either. The problem isn't in the answer, it's in the question."
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