Archive for ed-lake.com
February 2019

Comments for Sunday, February 10, 2019, thru Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019:

February 16, 2019 - At 9:23 p.m. last night, I finished listening to the audio book version of "Time for the Stars" by Robert A. Heinlein.  It's generally considered to be a "juvenile science-fiction novel," which means it was written for teenagers.  The central character is a teenager. 

Time for the Stars

I decided to listen to it because, as Wikipedia says, "The basic plot line is derived from a 1911 thought experiment in special relativity, commonly called the twin paradox, proposed by French physicist Paul Langevin."  It also seemed to have some interesting similarities to "Variable Star," which I enjoyed very much and which was supposedly co-authored by Heinlein. 

The plot involves a pair of identical twins who are telepathic in that they can communicate with each other telepathically.  And, just as in "Variable Star," such telepathic communications are instantaneous and are not limited by the speed of light.  Thus, when one twin boards a space ship headed to explore planets around nearby stars, he and his brother can communicate instantly, even when they are trillions of miles apart.  They and a dozen other twins with the same abilities are used for communications as part of 14 different exploration missions to seek planets that can be colonized.  

While the traveling twin (who narrates the story) explores other planets, the Earthbound twin ages at a much faster rate, aging 60 years while his brother ages 1 or 2 years.  There are problems with other planets, including diseases and vicious creatures, but the most interesting part is the same as happened in "Variable Star": while the traveling twin doesn't age as fast as his Earthbound brother, science advances much faster on Earth than it does on the spaceship.  In 70 years on Earth, they develop spaceships that can travel faster than light, and soon the new spaceships catch up with the original ship, and the original ship and the traveling twin are sent back home.  It's a home where nearly everything has changed.  It's like someone from the 1800s returning to the world of 2019.  Their space ship is now a museum piece.  That's an angle I had never though about or seen written about before.

It was an enjoyable book.  Interestingly, this morning when I checked the news, I saw a link to an on-line Wired Magazine article titled, "Sci-Fi Author Robert Heinlein was basically MacGiver."  The article begins with this:

Robert Heinlein is the legendary author of such classic works as Starship Troopers, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Stranger in a Strange Land. His books have influenced generations of artists and scientists, including physicist and science fiction writer Gregory Benford.

“He was one of the people who propelled me forward to go into the sciences,” Benford says in Episode 348 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Because his depiction of the prospect of the future of science, engineering—everything—was so enticing. He was my favorite science fiction writer.”

Out of curiosity, I clicked on the second link and found a whole bunch of potentially interesting podcasts on the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy.  I downloaded the last half dozen into my MP3 player.  I don't know how, but I'm going to try to find the time to listen to at least some of them.  Believe it or not, they are the first podcasts I've ever downloaded.  I never found free podcasts before.  Other podcasts always involved subscribing to something and paying a fee.  And these podcasts appear more interesting than any others I've seen.  Time will tell.  (The first three minutes of Episode 348 is a commercial for some video game.)

February 14, 2019 - Groan.  I spent much of this morning trying to find some college text book I can quote as saying that light gets absorbed and re-emitted from atom to atom as it makes its way through glass (or water) as described in the first on-line source I used in yesterday's comment.  That web site (physicsclassroom.com) was created by a high-school physics teacher.  The first two college text books I found do not seem to even address the issue.  Mostly they are just about the mathematics.

However, one of the books mentioned something I hadn't thought about before.  It described how binoculars produce upright images.  With ordinary telescopes (like the first one created by Galileo) the image is you see is magnified but upside down. 

telescope principles

In order to view the target object right-side up, you have to add another lens or a set of prisms.  Binoculars use two prisms for each eye to flip the image upright.

binoculars using prisms 

Note what this says about prisms.  Light hitting the surface of a prism at a 90 degree angle passes into the prism unaltered.  There is no separation of different wavelengths (or photon sizes).  100% of the light then reflects off the inside of the prism that is angled at 45 degrees.  That surface has no mirror coating.  Light simply reflects off of a flat surface when that surface is angled at 45 degrees.  The light then exits the first prism at a 90 degree angle to the surface and enters a second prism at a 90 degree angle.  That second prism then reflects the image again and sends it to the eyepiece lenses.

Even though there are four prisms inside the binoculars, none of the prisms separates light by wavelength, and they all reflect light nearly perfectly without being silver coated.

When you take another look at how a prism is generally explained to work:

prism separating light    

you see that the light is always made to hit surfaces at angles other than 90 degrees and 45 degrees.

The problem I now have is to understand (and explain) how a photon hitting a glass surface at a 90 degree angle does not disperse or refract (except for maybe about 4%), how a photon hitting a glass surface at a 45 degree angle reflects perfectly as if the surface was a mirror, how photons hitting a glass surface at less or greater than a 45 degree angle will be refracted at different angles depending upon the size of the photon.

Clearly, a 45 degree angle has great significance in understanding light.  (I think I read somewhere that it is actually 43 point something to 46 point something).  It is also the angle used when explaining polarization: 

polarizing light and 45 degree angles
Half the light from the source in the above diagram will pass through the horizontal filter, half of that light will pass through the 45 degree angle filter, and half of that light will pass through the vertical 90 degree angle filter.  So, 12.5 percent of the original light reaches the meter.  However, if the 45 degree angle filter is removed, half the light from the source will pass through horizontal filter just as before, but NONE of that light will pass through the vertical 90 degree angle filter.  NONE will reach the meter.

Books explain how things work by using waves and mathematics, but how does that all work using photons and logic?  That is what I have to figure out and understand.   

February 13, 2019
- I spent all day yesterday working on a scientific paper about "Visualizing Photons," and I thought I was making excellent progress.  Then, this morning, it was time for me to check on the actual sizes of things.  Specifically, I wondered about the size of a photon of red color and the size of silicon oxide molecules in a prism (or in a glass window pane). 
I knew that an atom consists mostly of empty space, and I was trying to visualize a photon passing through the empty spaces within a cluster of atoms. 

On a web page HERE I found this drawing of a silicon dioxide molecule:

silicon dioxide molecule

Hmm.  So there is about a quarter of a nanometer (nm) between any two oxygen atoms in the molecule and much less space than that between the silicon atom and each of the four oxygen atoms.

And what is the size of a red color photon?  Here's a table of wavelengths:

table of color wavelengths

Uh oh.   The wavelength of red light is about 3,000 times the distance between atoms in a silicon dioxide molecule. And if my view of photons is correct, that means that a photon is about 1,000 times larger than a silicon dioxide molecule! 

So much for the idea of photons traveling through the empty spaces inside atoms.

And that means that when a photon of red light touches the surface of a prism or glass window, fitting it between atoms would be like trying to fit a beach ball through a keyhole.

Yet, somehow light does go through glass.  How?  I did a Google search for "how does light pass through glass" and found a web site HERE which says, 
The mechanism by which a light wave is transported through a medium occurs in a manner that is similar to the way that any other wave is transported - by particle-to-particle interaction.    
Huh?  The article goes on to explain, but in terms too long to quote.  Basically, it says that light travels through glass the same way electricity travels through a wire.  The energy gets transmitted from atom to atom, each atom first absorbing the energy and then re-emitting it as a new photon to the next atom in line.

And, if it does that with glass, it must also do it with air.  So, a photon emitted from an atom in a tree across the street gets passed from atom to atom about a kazillion times to reach my eye.  And even when there is a window in the way, it still travels straight as an arrow.

That brought my thinking to a halt.  How can something that is 3,000 times larger than an atom get passed from atom to atom in a straight line?  I couldn't make any sense of it.

So, I researched further.

The next source I found was on Quora.com, where someone asked, "If light is made of particles, how does it pass through glass?"  There were dozens of answers, and I started going through them.

A response from June 2017 says that light passes through glass like sound passes through air.  Atoms push against atoms in a wavelike manner.  Bullshit!  That would mean that light cannot travel in a vacuum.

The next response says,
Particles can pass though objects. For example, right now there are 100 billion solar neutrinos per second passing through every square centimeter of your body. The neutrinos are particles that only have VERY weak interactions with the matter that our bodies are made of so almost all of them pass through without interacting. So, in general, there is no problem with particles passing through matter if they do not interact with the matter - there is lots of space between the nuclei of atoms.
That somewhat matches my original thinking.  It ignores the differences in size.  A neutrino is about as small a particle as there is, so it CAN pass through atoms.  But that doesn't mean that a light photon can.
 
Another response is very long and complex and doesn't really supply an answer, but it does say this:

The separation between atoms in glass is measured in picometers. The wavelength of visible light is measured in nanometers. That should tell you something. Yep. The wavelength of that passing electric field disturbance covers hundreds if not thousands of atoms. Think about that when you start to talk about “interactions”.
Okay, so I'm not the only person in the world to have noticed the difference in the size of a photon versus a molecule of glass.

Another response says basically the same thing as was stated in the first web site I checked, just worded differently:
When light falls on glass, the photons are absorbed by the electrons of the atoms on the surface of glass. But then then almost immediately these electrons transmit this photon by giving out the same energy it had previously absorbed and returns to the ground state.

With a series of these absorption-transmission steps, the light photons exit on the other side of the glass. 
Someone who claims to have been head of DARPA at one time responded with this:

Light (photons) actually pass through a-lot of things. Air for instance. In fact there is one and only one thing in the entire universe that can stop a light wave or particle. Without this one thing a photon will fly off to the edge of the universe and/or a black hole, whichever happens first. You are bathed daily in ancient photons born at the universe’s creation.

Intrigued? Ready? The only thing “powerful” enough to stop [absorb] a light beam is a charged particle. In everyday practical terms this will be an electron. Further not every electron will do, the electron needs to be “special” in that it is in a special state that allows it to effect the photon. Specifically: the photon’s energy [i.e. the light’s color] must be within the range of energy that the electron is allowed to absorb. This range is governed by the wacky laws of quantum theory.

There are dozens of responses to the question, so I could go on and on, but the response above seems to be the best answer.  Light photons are not stopped by the glass because the glass contains no electrons that have the right amount of energy to affect red color photons.  That means the light passes through and around the glass atoms and molecules as if the glass wasn't there - EXCEPT for the fact that the glass is more dense than air or a vacuum, which causes the photon to travel slower as it goes through the glass, speeding up again when it enters the air on the other side, and perhaps speeding up even more when it passes out of the air and into the vacuum of space.  As long as there isn't a tree in the way, or a bird, or some other object containing atoms and electrons of the right size, there is nothing to stop the photon.

Live and learn.  That wasn't how I pictured things before, but it is now.

And I've also seen that there are many different theories out there about something that is so fundamental that it is difficult to believe that there can be any disagreement.  It appears many physics teachers aren't teaching physics, they are teaching their own mistaken beliefs about physics.    

February 11, 2019
- At about 7 p.m. last night, I finished listening to the audio book version of the science-fiction novel "Into The Storm" by Taylor Anderson.

Into The Storm (Destroyermen #1)

The book is 400 pages long in hardcover, and as an audio book it consists of 20 MP3 files with a total listening time of 16 hours and 13 minutes.  I didn't really expect to finish it.  But I did, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I found it on Friday when I wondered if my local library had any science fiction novels in audio book form that might be as enjoyable as "Variable Star" was for me.  I found that my library has 712 science fiction books in audio book format, and 293 of those were available for immediate downloading.  Browsing through them, I found many "Star Wars" adventures and many other books that were part of a series.  I wasn't looking for any series books, but one series caught my eye.  The series was titled "Destroyermen," and the first book in the series was "Into The Storm," which was available.  

"Into the Storm" is about an old World War I destroyer, the USS Walker, that is fighting in World War II when it is chased out of the Philippines by the Japanese and down into the area of Indonesia and Bali and into the Battle of the Java Sea in March of 1942.  That was a period of history of great interest to me at one time.  The story becomes science fiction when the Walker and another old "four- stacker" destroyer, the USS Mahan, are chased by a Japanese ship into a strange tropical storm.  When they escape from the storm they are in the same area in the same year but in an alternate timeline.  They are on Earth in 1942, but it is an Earth which was never hit by the comet or asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.  So, humans never developed.  Instead, other species formed.  And they evolved and developed.

The Japanese ship sinks, and the Walker is separated from the Mahan when they find themselves in the middle of a different war.  It's a war between peaceful furry beings that evidently developed from Meercats and rampaging feathered or scaly creatures that developed from raptors.  What's most interesting, though, is that neither species has yet developed gun powder or steam power, much less radio or electric lights.  They still fight with spears and crossbows and wooden ships, technology that they evidently learned from humans on other ships that crossed over into their timeline centuries ago.  Plus, the Walker is nearly out of fuel in a world which has no oil refineries. And, there are only four human women in this world, four nurses who were evacuated from the Philippines, two on the Walker and two on the missing Mahan.  So, you can see how thirteen books have been written in the series.  There are plenty of problems to overcome.

I really enjoyed "Into the Storm," but I have absolutely no interest in reading any other books in the series. 

Right now, all I can think about is refraction.  How does refraction work if light consists of photons and there are no rays or waves to bend?

February 10, 2019
- It's another one of those Sunday mornings when I have absolutely nothing prepared for my Sunday comment.  So, I'm writing this comment from scratch.

I don't know if I'm making progress on my paper about photons or not.  I'm not getting anything written, but I keep thinking about it.  Last week I thought about prisms and how they separate light into its different component colors.

prism

Here's how one web site describes what a prism does:
White light is composed of all the visible colors in the electromagnetic spectrum, a fact that can be easily proven through the use of a prism. As light passes through a prism, it is bent, or refracted, by the angles and plane faces of the prism and each wavelength of light is refracted by a slightly different amount. Violet has the highest frequency and is refracted the most. Red has the lowest frequency and is refracted the least. Because each color is refracted differently, each bends at a different angle, resulting in a fanning out and separation of white light into the colors of the spectrum.
Okay, but light consists of photons, not waves, so there is no "wavelength" and light cannot be separated by wavelength.  What you have instead is size.  A prism separates light photons by size.  Violet has the smallest size photon and is refracted the most.  Red has the largest photon size and is refracted the least.

That poses a question that neither theory answers: Why?  Why is the higher frequency or smallest photon affected the most?  I haven't been able to find any solid answer to that question.  Mostly the sources just say that is the way refraction works.

When light traveling through air hits the surface of the prism it enters a different and thicker medium in which light travels at a slower speed.  All the waves and/or photons slow down.  I have no problem with that.

If the light hits the surface of the prism at a right angle, everything still slows down, but the light is not refracted.  All the photons and waves are still mixed up.  In order to separate different waves or different photon sizes, the light has to hit the surface at an angle.  I have no problem with that, either.  

What I have a problems with is this:

When light hits the surface of a prism at an angle, the smaller photons (the waves with the shortest wavelength) are supposedly slowed down more than larger photons and longer wavelengths.  Here's how one typical source describes the phenomenon:
The explanation for the colours separating out is that the light is made of waves. Red light has a longer wavelength than violet light. The refractive index for red light in glass is slightly different than for violet light. Violet light slows down even more than red light, so it is refracted at a slightly greater angle.
And here's what another source says,
The amount of refraction increases as the wavelength of light decreases. Shorter wavelengths of light (violet and blue) are slowed more and consequently experience more bending than do the longer wavelengths (orange and red).
I cannot make any sense of that.  If violet light slows down more than red light, then the different colors of light are traveling at different speeds.  The "speed of light" then means nothing, since every color travels at a different speed.

Things make sense to me if you view light as a photon and say that smaller photons are deflected at a sharper angle than larger photons.  Why are small photons deflected at a sharper angle?  It must be because smaller photons are more affected by the electromagnetic fields of the molecules and atoms that constitute the outer surface of the prism.

I think I need to create an illustration to show what I mean by that.  The illustration would show how the atoms in the prism have electromagnetic fields that are very shallow.  As a result, they can can easily grab entire small photons and deflect them at sharper angles, while larger photons are less affected because most of the photon passes outside of the pull of the atomic fields of the prism. 
 
Hmm.  I'll have to work on that idea.  It might be what I have been looking for.  One problem will be to properly show the relative sizes of the different photons and the atoms.  Another problem will be to use the right terminology.  I want to have people read and understand the paper without getting upset because I used a wrong word here or there.

Still another problem will be to get my daily routines back on track.  On Friday I downloaded the audio book version of an interesting science fiction novel.  It's 16 hours and 13 minutes long.  I've been listening to it on my MP3 player for about 5 hours a day.  I'm going to try to finish it today.  That won't give me time to do much of anything else.


Comments for Sunday, February 3, 2019, thru Saturday, February 9, 2019:

February 7, 2019 - While I keep thinking about the scientific paper I'm trying to write on the topic of "What is a Photon?," this morning I just had to sit down and spend a couple hours finishing a book I've been reading on my Kindle.  The book is "The Shadow President: The Truth about Mike Pence," by Michael D'Antonio and Peter Eisner. 

The Shadow President

I didn't want to finish it because I was enjoying reading it, I wanted to finish it so I could start reading something else.  The book was well-written, so it wasn't difficult to get through (I've got 33 pages of notes), but it gets very tedious just reading more and more sickening things about someone you totally detest.  Reading about Donald Trump is more enjoyable, because Trump's screwball actions can be stupid and hilarious, but Pence is just plain creepy and scary.

The first chapter in the book is titled "Sycophant," and the whole book shows Mike Pence to be an ass-kisser who agrees with Trump on almost everything, even though Trump's personal actions constantly go against Pence's religious beliefs and morals.  Pence gets what he wants by boot licking.  Here's a passage from the first chapter:
Throughout his first year at Trump’s side, Pence would be a constant, attentive presence who generally spoke only when the president requested it. For weeks at a time, he seemed to have just one major public assignment: admiring Donald Trump. He performed this duty consistently despite the fact that the bellicose and chaotic Trump—he of the infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” videotape—was so personally objectionable that Pence had considered trying to replace him at the top of the ticket as the 2016 election neared. 3 (A Pence aide denied that he had considered doing that.)
And here's another about comments Pence made during the first Cabinet meeting after Trump's election:
Pence offered about three minutes of impromptu praise in which The Washington Post discovered one expression of gratitude or admiration every twelve seconds. Among them were: “I’m deeply humbled, as your vice president, to be able to be here.” “You’ve restored American credibility on the world stage.” “You’ve unleashed American energy.” “You’ve spurred an optimism in this country that’s setting records.” When Pence concluded his praise, President Trump offered up a verbal pat on the head, saying, “Thank you, Mike. That’s very nice. I appreciate that.” Pence replied, “Thank you, Mr. President, and God bless you.” 5 The vice president’s cringeworthy display, broadcast live on television, prompted an avalanche of mockery. The nonpolitical website Dictionary.com used Pence’s remarks in a tweet to illustrate the definition of the word sycophant.
Pence evidently justifies his sycophant actions by believing they will eventually get him into the Presidency, which he believes was ordained by God.  Here's another quote from early in the book:
James Carville and Paul Begala once observed that “you never stand so tall as when you stoop to kiss an ass.” If that’s the case, then Mike Pence is a giant among men. 6 Lewis’s analysis overlooked a significant signal in the final phrase—“and God bless you”—offered by the vice president when he spoke at the cabinet meeting. Easy to regard as a kind of rhetorical tic, like the “God bless America” that presidents tack on to the end of formal addresses, Pence’s call to the deity reminded conservative Christians that their champion was alert to his duty. In fact, as one of Pence’s closest aides would explain, the vice president actually believed he could bring Trump to Jesus and, like Jesus, he was willing to do whatever was necessary to help save Trump’s soul.
Pence is also someone who is willing to sacrifice people for money and political goals.  He was governor of Indiana before becoming Vice-President, and in that role he had a long list of occasions where he chose monetary goals over people, even leaving an innocent man rot in prison for 3 years because pardoning him might cost Indiana some money if the guy sued for wrongful imprisonment.  (Pence's successor pardoned the man.)  Plus he allowed corporations to pollute water sources, endangering people, because the polluters were big donors to his campaigns. 

Pence also justifies all sorts of wrongful acts because he feels his religious beliefs justify them.  Another quote:
In this way, faith became a substitute for facts and permitted believers to assert their superiority even as they proclaimed their humility. In the same way that President Trump insisted his genes made him better than others, this type of Christian assumed extra insights on an ontological basis: faith, rather than might, makes right. Such a belief permitted the faithful to claim humility in the shadow of God’s grace while also feeling just a little (or a lot) superior to others.    
I could go on and on, but it's just as tedious to write about Pence as it is to read about him.  Trump may be incompetent, but Pence is just plain evil.  That is part of what I meant in the poster I created a few weeks ago:
Warning
                    about impeaching Donald Trump.

February 5, 2019
- As I write this comment, I still have 10 minutes left on CD #8 of the 8-CD audio book set I burned for "Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life" by Helen Czerski.  I'm listening to it in my car, so I'll finish it this afternoon when I'm driving either to or back from the gym. (Added note: I finished it on my way home.)

Storm in a Teacup

It's a thoroughly enjoyable book, and I may listen to it again sometime.  I particularly enjoyed the narration by Chloe Massey, who speaks with a cute and charming British accent.  I truly enjoy listening to her talk.  I could do it all day without really hearing to a word she says.  "Storm in a Teacup" is pronounced "Stawm in a Teacop."  When she asks, "Isn't it?" she asks "Isn't eh?"  But it all loses something when viewed in print.  You have to listen to it.

The book has lots of interesting things in it, like the fact that an electromagnet is used to hold down the toast tray in a pop-up toaster.  I would have it assumed it was some kind of lever.  But an electromagnet is more reliable.  You can test it by trying to push down the lever on the side of the toaster when the toaster is not plugged it.  The lever won't stay down.  I recall doing that and wondering about it when I was a kid.  The author also discusses at length how water gets from the roots of a tall tree to the leaves on the topmost branches, and I found it very interesting, but I don't remember enough of it to explain it.  Part of the problem is that, unlike most non-fiction books, this one tends to be told like a story, which means the story gets interrupted when I turn off the ignition in my car.  While that might be annoying for another book, for this one it just means I want to listen to this book again sometime.

I don't even mind that the word "photon" is used only twice in the book.  Both times in the same paragraph at the top of page 236, a paragraph which also says that light consists of waves and rays:
The light rays hitting our retina may have travelled from the Moon or from our fingers, but they have the same effect. A single photon is absorbed by a single opsin molecule, twisting the molecule around to start a chain of dominoes that sends an electronic signal into our control systems. As our thirsty body walks into the kitchen, photons that have bounced off a sink, a tap and a kettle stream into our eyes, and our brain processes that information in the blink of an eye to tell us what to pick up first. If it’s slightly dark in the kitchen, we turn on a lightbulb, releasing a fountain of light waves. They radiate outwards, and as soon as their journey starts they’re being modified by the world, reflected, refracted and absorbed until perhaps our eyes pick up what’s left.
Note that the author talks about rays and waves (or "wehves") when talking about how light is transmitted ("the wehve model"), but she talks about photons when talking about how light interacts with molecules and solid objects (the photon model).  Plus, I suppose people just aren't accustomed to someone saying, "we turn on a lightbulb, releasing a fountain of photons."  But that is what happens.  And the reason I am writing this comment about finishing a book before I actually finish it is because I want to get to work on a paper about photons.  That's easier to do if I know I won't have to stop working on it to write this comment later today.

February 4, 2019
- I've probably seen a dozen detective shows where the detective is looking around in some house or some other location and someone asks him what he is looking for.  And the detective responds, "I don't know, but I'll recognize it when I find it."  That happened to me yesterday.

I was reading and studying an article titled "Evolution of the modern photon" when I came across this passage near the bottom of the first page:
Bohr rejected the existence of quanta for many years. In 1923, he had referred to the "insuperable difficulties" of the lightquantum hypothesis in accounting for interference phenomena and asserted that "the picture ... which lies at the foundation of the hypothesis of lightquanta ... excludes, in principle, the possibility of a rational definition of the conception of a frequency which plays a principal part in this theory."11
Ah!  Of course!  Bohr rejected the idea of photons because photons are generally incompatible with the idea of a frequency.  Only waves have a frequency:

light wave frequency  
With waves, if you know how many waves pass a given point in one second, you can compute the wave length.  And vice versa, if you know the wave length, you can compute the frequency at which waves will pass a given point.

With photons, frequency has no meaning, since photons are emitted randomly and thus arrive randomly.  And wave length is not really the length of a wave, since there are no waves.

The article then goes on to say that Bohr co-wrote a paper in which he attempted to dispose of the idea of photons (light quanta) by developing a mathematical theory where photons were only statistical flukes.  But that didn't work.
The theory was eventually refuted on experimental grounds, and, in 1927, Bohr final­ly accepted the photon at the price of espousing complementarity13 and, thus, enshrining the wave-particle duality of light as a permanent feature of the Copenhagen interpretation, a denouement that has been described as "a case in which competing views, found unresolvable, were simply combined-perhaps a singular event in the development of science"14 and one that it must be said has caused dissension ever since (see, e.g., Park 15).
So, "wave-particle duality" is simply a case of "competing views," with Bohr believing in mathematics, and others believing in the results of experiments.

Today the whole science of spectroscopy is based upon wavelengths and frequencies.  And the Doppler shift of light is viewed as a change in wavelength. A whole new scientific language would have to be developed to discuss the properties of light if light consists of photons, i.e., specific quantities of energy which have nothing to do with waves or anything wavelike.    

I tried to find the references the quotes use, but the only one that provides interesting details is "(see, e.g., Park 15)"  at the end of the second quote.  That reference provides this information:
Maxwell’s theory explains certain experiments well, but the same is true of the photon concept. Do we then have to conclude that light is both a wave and a particle? That would be too bad, since it would not make any sense. But think for a minute: What is a physical experiment and what does it actually tell us? We prepare a piece of apparatus, we turn it on, something happens, a measurement is made. The experiment tells us what happened, and a good theory tells what will happen before any one does the experiment. The crucial point is this: An experiment or a theory tells what happens, not what is.

Experiments in the old days usually involved things one could touch and see, and it is from experience of touching and seeing that we get our firm ideas of what is; therefore, if one deduced what was from what happened, things rarely went wrong. You can see light but you cannot see a light wave; you cannot touch a photon, and it is obvious from the experiments just described that a light wave is not just a scaled-down version of waves in a duck pond, nor is a quantum particle a scaled-down version of a baseball. In fact, the nature of light cannot be represented as a scaled-down version of anything we are familiar with. It has its own nature, whatever that may be, and what we know about it is what happens in different experiments. Luckily for us, the situation is not entirely strange. What happens in some experiments can be modeled by a wave; in others, by a particle. Often, as when we have to deal with the electron cloud surrounding an atom, neither of those models is very helpful in understanding what happens and we trust the model whose root is in mathematics. It may not satisfy all our desires, but at least it works.
A Google Scholar search for Bohr and "light frequency" gets about 1,890 results, but little that looks interesting.  A search for Bohr and "insuperable difficulties" finds about 200 results, some of which look worth examining further.  But I'm not sure what I'd be looking for.  More details and better quotes, perhaps.  The question then becomes: When do I stop the research and get back to writing a paper about photons?  Pretty soon, I think.   

February 3, 2019
- I awoke this morning realizing something that I should have realized long ago: Mathematicians cannot replace their two model versions of light with a single model without acknowledging that at least one (or maybe both) of the mathematical models they have been using for over a hundred years is nonsense.

To people who view mathematics as being infallible and virtually the Word of God, admitting that a mathematical equation you have been using all your life is total crap is about the same as admitting that you cannot tell the difference between the truth and total crap.  It took mathematicians about a thousand years to admit that their mathematical model of the universe which placed the earth at the center was just crap.  

What's most frustrating for me is that I realized all this back in August of 2018.  I wrote comment after comment about what Carver Mead had to say on the subject.  And some of those comments were just repeats of things I had quoted in August of 2016.  Here's a Carver Mead quote I used in August of 2016 and 2018:
"Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with mathematics--it's the language we use to express the precise relations of physical law. But there is an increasing tendency to mistake the language for the physics itself. Once we lose the conceptual foundations, the whole thing becomes a shell game."  
The problem is: Carver Mead only talks about the general problem with the way mathematicians think. He doesn't specifically address the way mathematicians use two different models for light and do not seem to care that the models are incompatible. 

Another problem is that I do not agree with Carver Mead's view on the nature of a photon.  In his paper from 2000, "The Nature of Light: What are Photons?," Mead provides his view of what a photon looks like.  To him a photon is just a "transaction" between atoms.  As I stated in my August 2016 comments, to me, a photon is excess energy looking for a home.  A photon cannot be a "transaction between atoms" if an atom absorbs a photon and does not re-emit it again to another atom.  And that happens when photon energy is converted into chemical energy via photosynthesis. 

I don't think the question of "What is a photon?" is going to be resolved until everyone agrees on the shape and size of photon.  And it's rare to find anyone who even seems to address that issue.

This morning, I used Google Scholar to search for articles about photons versus waves and mathematical models, and I found another article that I had previously found and filed.  It's titled "Evolution of the modern photon." Unfortunately, it is not searchable, which also means I cannot copy and paste quotes from it until after I run it through a converter program.  Until then, I have to retype passages I want to quote, such as:
One of the most puzzling features of standard quantum mechanics, especially to undergraduate students, has been the wave-particle duality.  The duality of light, coupled with the corpuscular photon model, has been given many conflicting interpretations and has promoted almost universal confusion among nonexperts.
I certainly cannot disagree with that.  Later the paper says,
Elementary survey course textbooks usually leave the impression that the photon is a small, spherical entity along the lines suggested by Lewis and is the ultimate constituent of electric current.
If a photon is spherical, how can it be polarized?  Is the sphere supposed to be spinning, like the Earth, with a North Pole and South Pole?  I have a problem viewing anything that spins to also travel at the speed of light.  Time stops at the speed of light, but a spinning object would allow time to be measured by the rate of spin.  If you accept a photon as being a spinning sphere, you are also saying that time does NOT stop at the speed of light.

The paper then goes on to describe three different models of photons.  I'm going to have to study the paper to see if I can figure out the differences between the models.  They seem to be mostly mathematical differences.  A search for a searchable version of that paper brought me to another paper titled "Arguments Concerning Photon Concepts" that also looks interesting.  I'm going to have to study that one, too.

Last week, I also browsed through the two books titled "Fundamentals of Photonics" that I mentioned in my February 1 comment
Basically, they are both about Quantum Mechanics, and that means that all answers are found via mathematical equations.  I didn't see anything in either book that clarified anything for me. 

So, I looked for other sources.  I entered "What is a photon?' into Google Scholar and it provided a link to a book titled "The Nature of Light: What is a Photon?" edited by Chandra Roychoudhuri, A.F. Kracklauer, and Kathy Creath.  Browsing through the book, I saw the first part was a paper titled "Light Reconsidered" by Arthur Zajonc, which I could also access independently via Google Scholar.  It looks like an interesting article, but it ends with this:
To my mind, Einstein was right to caution us concerning light. Our understanding of it has increased enormously in the 100 years since Planck, but I suspect light will continue to confound us, while simultaneously luring us to inquire ceaselessly into its nature.
I hesitate to sit down and study any article about photons that ends by saying the subject "will continue to confound us."  But, I put it in my reading queue.  I also noticed that the paper used another paper with an interesting title as a reference: “Single Photons Stick Together” by Philippe Grangier.  Since my impression was that photons do NOT "stick together," I searched for and found a copy of that article via Google Scholar.  It begins with this sentence:
Can two photons that have never met know something about each other? 
What kind of question is that?  Who would ask such a question?  It would have to be someone whose mind is already set on some fantasy about distant photons being connected even when there is no possible way for them to be connected. The article seems to start with a belief developed from Quantum Mechanics, and then sets about confirming that belief without any real evidence whatsoever.  Just mathematics.

What am I looking for?  I'm looking for some article or book that will say that my understanding of photons cannot possibly be true because ________.  (Fill in the blank.)  Mostly, what I'm finding instead is article after article with someone else's notion of how light works, but with the understanding that they do not know if light is a wave or a photons, since they do not care.  As long as they can mathematically model their beliefs one way or another, that's all the care about.

But, I also found a few articles that might contain something that will help me get out of this endless search for an answer that no one else in the world has been able to find, an answer to the question "What is a Photon?"

Comments for Friday, February 1, 2019, thru Saturday, February 2, 2019:

February 2, 2019 - I had to stop at a grocery store this afternoon to pick up some supplies, and while I was unloading my basket onto the conveyor belt I realized there was an argument going on between the elderly black man in front of me and the big beefy white guy in front of him.  The elderly black guy was chuckling, so it wasn't a heated argument.  But the two men didn't seem to know each other, so you couldn't call it a "friendly argument."  The white guy was ranting about building a wall along the border with Mexico, and how it would stop all the drugs that were illegally coming into this country.  The black guy was just shaking his head, chuckling, and saying it was a waste of money.

It looked like it was safe for me to agree with the black guy when they both glanced at me, so I did so.  A wall isn't going to stop drug smugglers.  Drug smugglers dig tunnels under walls when there is a wall to get past.  Mostly, though, they smuggle drugs in by boat, by plane and by hiding them inside trucks and other vehicles that pass through the customs check points.

I didn't get a chance to argue that point before the white guy picked up his groceries and left.  But, I wish I had been there to see how the argument started.  It had to have been started by the white guy.  What kind of person would start a political argument in a line at a grocery store?  I imagine it is the same kind of guy who would yell at the TVs at the gym, like the guy I saw do that at my gym last week.  It's the type of guy who is accustomed to getting his way by force

How do you argue with someone who gets his way by force, instead of by logic and reasoning?  The white guy in the grocery line and the guy at the gym were obviously driven by hate of some kind.  There is no way to reason with people who are driven by hate and who use force to get their way.  Luckily we can still out-vote them.  


February 1, 2019
- Yesterday, I was browsing through a couple papers related to the article
titled "Physicists Have Built a Machine That Actually Breaks Two Rules of Light" that I mentioned in my January 30 comment.  Somewhere, while doing research, I saw mention of a book titled "Fundamentals of Photonics."  Hmm.  The word "photonics" is defined this way:
Photonics is the physical science of light (photon) generation, detection, and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and sensing.
So, photonics is about photons!  I've been searching for information about how photons work!  It seems that instead of looking for articles about photons, I should have been looking for articles about photonics!  When I searched for the book "Fundamentals of Photonics," I found two books with that title.

Fundamentals of Photonics #1
Fundamentals of Photonics #2

The first one, by B.E.A. Saleh and M.C. Teich, is the one mentioned in the source I found.  It says this on page vi of the Forward:
The theories of light are presented at progressively increasing levels of difficulty.  Thus light is described first as rays, then scalar waves, then electromagnetic waves, and, finally, photons.
The photon theory of light is the most difficult!?!?   As I see it, looking at light purely as photons would greatly simplify everything.

The book's Table of Contents shows these chapters:
1. Ray Optics
2. Wave Optics
3. Beam Optics
4. Fourier Optics
5. Electromagnetic Optics
6. Polarization and Crystal Optics
7. Guided Wave Optics
8. Fiber Optics
9. Resonator Optics
10. Statistical Optics
11. Photon Optics
12. Photons and Atoms
13. Laser Amplifiers
14. Lasers
15. Photons in Semiconductors
16. Semiconductor Photon Sources
17. Semiconductor Photon Detectors
18. Electro-optics
19. Nonlinear Optics
20. Acousto-optics
21. Photonic Switching and Computing
22. Fiber-Optic Communications
Chapter 11 begins on page 386 with this:
Light consists of particles called photons.  A photon has zero rest mass and carries electromagnetic energy and momentum.  It also carries an intrinsic angular momentum (or spin) that governs its polarization properties.  The photon travels at the speed of light in a vacuum (c0); its speed is retarded in matter.  Photons also have a wavelike character that determines their localization properties in space and the rules by which they interfere and diffract.
If light photons spin, how can 3D movies work?  In theaters, TWO projectors produce a double image on the screen.  The 3D glasses let you see one image though your left eye and the second image through your right eye.  If the photons coming from the screen were spinning, how could they be oriented correctly when they reach your eyes?

And I think the idea that photons interact and interfere with each other is nonsense because photons have no "wavelike character."  So, it seems the author of the book is going to force photons to behave like waves because waves are understood and photons are not. 

But, it looks like the book has a few chapters that are definitely worth studying.

The second book, edited by Chandrasekhar Roychoudhuri, consists of "10 modules written by experts in the photonics field" and has this on page 6:
Scientists have observed that light energy can behave like a wave as it moves through space, or it can behave like a discrete particle with a discrete amount of energy (quantum) that can be absorbed and emitted. As we study and use light, both models are helpful.

Concept of a photon

The particle-like nature of light is modeled with photons. A photon has no mass and no charge. It is a carrier of electromagnetic energy and interacts with other discrete particles (e.g., electrons, atoms, and molecules).
A beam of light is modeled as a stream of photons, each carrying a well-defined energy that is dependent upon the wavelength of the light.
Groan!  I'm trying to find a source that describes light as photons without any mention of waves or beams.  Any source that uses two different models for light is a source that does not understand light.  As I see it, light consists of photons - PERIOD - and photons have a disk shape, which physicists mistakenly think makes it "wavelike."

The second book might contain something worthwhile, but I'll definitely be focusing on chapters 11 and 12 of the first book.  And it looks like the definition of the word "photonics" needs to be changed to:

Photonics is the physical science of light generation, detection, and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and sensing, in which photon models are used when the particle properties of light can be accurately modeled using mathematics, and wave models of light are used when the wavelike properties of light can be accurately modeled using mathematics.  No one has any idea how light really works.
I was thinking of adding an additional sentence: "It's like the blind leading the blind."  But, I decided that would be a bit much.









© 2019 by Ed Lake
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