I have a mentor at work, who wrote a paper in the past regarding light and relativity. I am an aerospace engineer by training and a system administrator/programmer by trade, so I know a little bit about physics and relativity, but not enough to critique this paper.

The paper in question is Hall Photon Theory, which is a rather unsettling paper, written looking at physics through the lens of the author's personal experience.

It is clear that light is affected by gravity (gravitational lensing, etc.) and that light can influence matter (solar sails, light "pressure", etc.), so it seems that what he claims could be feasible, but I want to throw this out there to see what people who know a good deal more about this have to say.

So, my question, can light affect gravity/matter?


Since, I am getting answers all over the board, let me increase the precision of my question:

Are the hypotheses presented in the aforementioned paper, namely that cleverly used light can produce anti-gravity/anti-intertial fields, provably false? And if so, can you provide that proof?

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    $\begingroup$ Just from the first page of that paper I get a score of +30 points from the crackpot index. $\endgroup$ – rob Jun 21 '14 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ The answer to your question is yes, but from a cursory glance the paper lacks any meaningful derivations, doesn't really prove anything at all and the author lacks basic knowledge of physics, so I agree with rob. $\endgroup$ – auxsvr Jun 21 '14 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ Is he the one "visited" by extraterrestials in Nevada? While it is well known that matter interacts with gravity/matter, his paper has no relation to Physics. Just see: Spacecraft designed in accordance with an understanding of these physical laws and Hall Photon Theory would be capable of taking off from earth, quickly accelerating within a few hours to velocities greater than the speed of light without having any negative impact on the well being of the occupants. WTF! $\endgroup$ – jinawee Jun 21 '14 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ The Google search "hall photon theory" site:.edu OR site:.ac OR site:.ac.uk pulls up no results... $\endgroup$ – Mark K Cowan Jun 21 '14 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ If your question is really just about the paper you linked then it's off topic. If you're asking the more general question of "can light affect gravity" then you should edit your question to be a bit more specific and direct about what you mean. $\endgroup$ – Brandon Enright Jun 22 '14 at 6:30

Yes. See for instance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pp-wave_spacetime. These geometries are an exact class of solutions to General Relativity that model the response of spacetime to `massless' radiation waves, a class which includes light.

More generally, anything with energy-momentum couples to gravity.

  • $\begingroup$ How would one go about influencing gravity with light? From an engineering standpoint? $\endgroup$ – adv Mar 23 '15 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ They wouldn't, the obvious way to do that is to put a bunch of matter where you need a strong gravitational field. $\endgroup$ – alexarvanitakis Apr 4 '15 at 2:00

We already know that light can affect matter. For example the photoelectric effect (KE=hf-w). This equation represent an electron being displaced by x-ray light. Light is mass-less but behaves as if it has mass (momentum) in certain situations. Due to this it can be inferred that light has gravity/can affect gravity.

If gravity is able to bend light, then the light must also be affecting the gravitational field it is experiencing.

Perhaps the behaviors of photons having mass/momentum can be explained by their presence in the higgs field.


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