A radio antenna creates EM waves through switching the polarization in the antenna at a certain frequency. I assume the the energy of the photons produced in this process amount to E=hf for each photon. So good so far, but classically, i read that the EM field is an oscillation of the electric field between positive and negative values, as would seem reasonable from what the antenna is doing. If individual photons simply have a single positive energy relating to the frequency of the wave, how is this positive-negative oscillation represented in that stream of photons?

I guess to put it simply, how is a changing electric field represented in a stream of photons in general, and from a radio antenna specifically?

  • $\begingroup$ Radios don't switch polarization. They create EM waves electrically and conduct them to a structure that will radiate them into free space. A EM field consists of a magnetic and electric component. Your title is about energy, but your question is about how can particles be waves. I suggest you try this primer first then ask a specific question: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_radiation $\endgroup$ – user6972 Apr 16 '14 at 0:40
  • $\begingroup$ See my answer to this question: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/66977/… $\endgroup$ – Virgo Apr 16 '14 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ @DiracSea: You are a victim of a huge failure of physics pedagogy, which is that the word "photon" is horribly horribly abused. I can answer this but the way I present thge answer is going to depend on whether you understand Fourier series. Do you? $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Apr 17 '14 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ Sure Daniel, I do to an extent. I'm pretty sure I can follow your argument if the math doesn't get too hairy. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – DiracSea Apr 17 '14 at 9:54

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