What is a Photon?
Author: Mark Fiorentino
What is a Photon? In this article I will describe the physical structure of a photon using SR Theory. If you have not read the article on "What is Space?" I recommend reading that first before reading this article. In Classical Theory the photon is considered the quantum of the electromagnetic field. Basically, Electromagnetic fields are made up of large numbers of photons. This of course means that electromagnetic interaction is mediated by the exchange of photons. SR Theory does not disagree with any of those statements. Also the photon is one of the elementary particles and its interactions with electrons and atomic nuclei account for a great many features of matter. SR theory goes beyond the current limited knowledge of what a photon is. It physically describes what it is and why it behaves as it does.
In many circumstances, a photon acts as a classical particle, for instance when registered by the light-sensitive device in a camera. In other circumstances, a photon acts like a classical wave, as when passing through the optics in a camera. According to the so-called wave-particle duality of quantum physics, it is natural for the photon to display either aspect of its nature, according to the circumstances. Some say a photon, "sometimes acts like a wave and sometimes acts like a particle". This is slightly misleading, because a photon always acts like both. For example, when shooting single photons through a slit, a detector can detect each photon when it hits—but over time, the detector will detect the same diffraction pattern as it would if the photons were given off all in one burst.
SR Theory explains all the properties of the photon. The properties of the photon are: 1. wavelength 2. spin 3. energy 4. momentum The key to understanding the Universe is by asking the right questions. The right questions in the instance of the photon are: 1. What is the photon made of ? 2. What physically happens with the photon that makes it exhibit its characteristic properties? In order to get the answer to those questions I chose the technique of an analytical troubleshooter.
The technique is fairly simple you take one question at a time and then, you drill down into the topic even further by asking additional questions. The next step is to perform research and lastly brainstorm to form a reasonable theory that explains the observable phenomena. For example, "What is the Photon made of ?" The first question that comes to mind is what do I have to choose from in so far as materials that could be used to construct a photon. Current theories describe the photon as a massless and chargeless point in space. It is a fundamental particle meaning it does not break down into something smaller. So far conventional theory says nothing about what the photon is made of. It has no charge and no mass yet it does have energy.
Since using current theories of Quantum Mechanics ordinary Relativity and String Theory offer no explanation for what a photon is made up of. I turned to SR Theory for a possible explanation. SR Theory says that there is only one thing that exists in the Universe and everything is made up of this physical material. Space is the one thing, the only material object there is. Therefore a Photon must be made up of Spatial material. If in fact the Photon is made of space then it is safe to assume all the various particles are also made up of space as well. In order for particles to be able to be distinguished from ordinary space they have to be physically different in some way. A particle, therefore is defined as any region of space that has been geometrically distorted in a mechanical way.
Because space is a finite but unbounded structure the particles cannot unravel and return to an undistorted or as I like to describe it an unconfigured state. I am sure by now you are asking yourself what do I mean by configured space. In order for particles to exist and be recognizable as a distinct entity within space they must be distorting space mechanically. The Dimensions of Space There are 4 different ways to distort space mechanically.
See drawings Below:
Fig. 1 Fig. 2 Fig. 3
The image in Figure 1 shows 3 of the dimensions needed for gravity to exist and be able to manifest in our Universe. Dimensions in SR Theory are defined as ways that space can be stretched. There is one dimension assigned for each axis of movement. For example in Figure 1 there are three axis of movement (3 ways to stretch or contract space) 1. On the X axis (back and forth) 2. On the Y axis (up and down) 3. On the Z axis (to and fro - Diagonally) Stretching or contracting space in this way allows for spherical geometries to exist. See Figure 1, this is what is required for gravity to manifest itself in the Universe. There is still another dimension needed to allow electrostatic fields to occur. This mechanical distortion is what drives the matter and energy phenomena in our Universe.
In figures 2 and 3 the most important property of matter / energy is revealed. This most important property is the physical twisting / spatial inversion. In figure 2 a simple 2 dimensional view from the side shows a slice of space that is twisted. This should help you visualize what is actually happening. In Figure 3 a direct head on view of what space looks like when there is an inversion. This is the only way that can create a situation in which electrostatic charge can manifest itself in our Universe. If you think about it, this is the way it has to be. It makes perfect sense. Without the spatial inversion (the 4 th Dimension) we have a Universe that has only 3 dimensional particles that exhibit a force of attraction only. The Universe would have never been born from the Big Bang if there was Gravity only. If a Universe could expand it would most certainly collapse in a hurry. We need charge, the Coulomb force so that there is a force of attraction and repulsion.
The Coulomb force also provides a mechanism by which particles can establish more complicated structures such as atoms and molecules. It also forms the basis for fundamental force mediating particles such as the Photon. We have to have attraction and repulsion so that atomic and subatomic particles do not collapse into one big clump. The spatial inversion also endows particles with another important attribute. It gives them motion. Not just ordinary motion, but places the particles in a state of perpetual motion. Photons and Electrons never stand still. They never stop. They may slow down when they enter a different medium such as air or water but they do not stop. Quite simply, the reason is this; any region of space that is twisted will be pulled forward because of the negatively charged inverted region and pushed forward because of the positively charged region.
Fortunately for us and our Universe space is a finite but unbounded system. Therefore there is no edge of space no end where the twisted region can be released. So charged particles like the photon travel through space forever seeking a region where they can unwind and be restored to an unconfigured state. The Coulomb force is necessary so that atomic structures can form and also be allowed to transform states when energy is either added or subtracted from an atom or molecule. All the complex particle interactions occur because of the Coulomb force and its counterpart the Magnetic Field. The Coulomb force makes it possible for more complicated atomic structures to form bistable multivibrator like oscillatory states. This is the basic universal construct to form all matter.
The photon construction is more than just a single spatial inversion it is composed of two spatial inversions. The first inversion is a clockwise inversion and the second piece is a counterclockwise inversion. These two inversions are combined end to end. It should also be noted that these inversions are connected back to back. With this construction type the photon is forced to move in the same direction. Since the photon is composed of a matter and anti-matter component of equal but opposite charges the overall charge for the photon is equal to zero. The back to back construction ensures flight in the same direction the matter antimatter component ensures flight is a concept also allows the photon to travel in a perfect straight path. Since the photon is has equal amounts of charge and flys absolutely straight with zero angular momentum it does not generate a gravitational field. Therefore it is massless.
There is only one aspect of photon this is still not explained and that is polarization. It appears as if there is also a left handed and a right handed version of the photon as well. This seems to indicate a spin in the opposite direction. Therefore it must also be possible to construct a photon with a reversed polarization. So instead of a clockwise - counterclockwise construction connected back to back there must also be a counterclockwise to clockwise version connected back to back.
Truly the photon in everyway can be considered to be its own anti-particle. All of it's various properties and traits of the photon can be explained using SR Theory. The real mystery to yet be explained is what actually happens to the photon when it is absorbed by the electron and when it is emitted. That phenomena will be explained in the chapter "What is an Electron?"