To frame this question, we need to assume that time freezes when traveling at the speed of light. This is theoretically congruent with Einstein's theory of relativity and the theory of time dilation, as discussed here: Would time freeze if you could travel at the speed of light?

If this is true, then the photon, which may only exist at the speed of light due to it's "mass-less" property, would not be observable or measurable by any experiment or method that required the passage of time. For the photon's entire existence, the rest of time and existence would not experience change. If the photon traveled 1,000 light years from it's origin in a star to where it was absorbed into some matter, the rest of time and existence would remain changeless for the duration of the photon's 1,000 light year journey. There is no opportunity for anything that experiences the passage of time to observe or measure a photon which never experiences the passage of time.

In the fabric of space time, instead of traveling, the photon stretches. While any other particle not traveling at the speed of light would leave it's point of origin and travel, one point at a time along a path to its destination, it is different for a photon. Instead, a photon could be thought of as being created on all points along a path, including the origin and the destination, simultaneously, and for absolutely no amount of time. Can this be represented with a physics equation?

So if the photon is the light particle and there is also an aspect of light that is known to be an electromagnetic wave form, then the relationship between the two is not that they are the same thing, it is that the photon particle exists before, and causes, the electromagnetic wave form, the way that a boat moving through water causes a wake or lightning through the atmosphere causes thunder.

Is this currently recognized in physics?


closed as unclear what you're asking by Kyle Kanos, Ali, Kyle Oman, Alfred Centauri, Brandon Enright Jul 18 '14 at 1:45

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    $\begingroup$ The photon only experiences no time in it's own frame (which is poorly defined since you can't really attach a mathematical reference frame to a photon in a way that makes sense). In any other frame, time DOES pass. If a star 1000 ly away explodes, it will take 1000 yr before I find out about it, the time required for its photons to reach me. The photons won't experience time on their journey, but I still have to wait. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Oman Jul 17 '14 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ YES! We're on the same page at least. But, if a star 1,000 ly away explodes, it will take time for you to find about it because you're not ever experiencing the photon itself, you're experiencing the aftermath of the photon. It takes 1000 years for the ripple that follows the photon to be observed. The photon itself, from your point of view, was created and destroyed instantaneously. $\endgroup$ – Derek Roberts Jul 17 '14 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ The photons wouldn't experience "time", but they would experience a "lifespan" or an "existence", except it wouldn't be measurable with what we call "time", because "time" is not passing for the photon, only space is passing for the photon. $\endgroup$ – Derek Roberts Jul 17 '14 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ Errr, we are not on the same page. At all. See everything ACuriousMind has said. If you add a well-defined mathematical description of a reference frame attached to a photon in your question, then we can talk. But the trouble is, no one knows how to do this (without breaking a lot of physics), so unfortunately your question ends up making very little sense. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Oman Jul 17 '14 at 19:15

I've said it before and I will say it again:

There are no frames travelling at the speed of light

As David Z says in the very link you give, it is meaningless to ask what you would perceive travelling at the speed of light. You cannot. And even though there are particles that can, there are no frames associated with them. Have a look at the Lorentz boost. It's singular for $v=c$, you cannot transform into a frame that travels at the speed of light.

There cannot be such frames because the speed of light is constant in all frames. Yet in the hypothetical frame comoving with the photon, the photon's speed is $0$. Which is a contradiction. Therefore, there are no such frames.

The phrase "the photon experiences no time" does not mean that time freezes in its frame. It means that the very concept of time is meaningless, because the proper time for the photon is always zero and thus there is no frame in which that could be a coordinate.

The assumption for your question is false. The photon does not "stretch".

  • $\begingroup$ " Yet in the hypothetical frame comoving with the photon, the photon's speed is 0. Which is a contradiction. Therefore, there are no such frames." To me, this contradiction proves that the whole concept is suspicious. When people find similar contradictions in a religion, they consider it a disproof of the religion, and not just a proof that you should not analyze some aspects of it. $\endgroup$ – bright magus Jul 22 '14 at 7:21

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