Questions tagged [photons]

The photon is the quantum of the electromagnetic four-potential, and therefore the massless bosonic particle associated with the electromagnetic force, commonly also called the "particle of light". Use this tag for questions about the quantum-mechanical understanding of light and/or electromagnetic interactions.

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12
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5answers
11k views

Spontaneous pair production?

So I've been looking into particle-antiparticle pair production from a gamma ray and don't understand one thing. Let's say I have a 1,1 MeV photon and it hits a nucleus - electron-positron pair with ...
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1answer
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Photons in a “wrap-around” universe

This question was inspired by: How are photons "consumed"? Imagine I have some number of photons, $N$, each of frequency $\nu$, moving randomly in a spherical "wrap-around" universe of ...
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How are photons “consumed”?

I have very little background in physics, so I apologize if this question is painfully naive. Consider the following thought experiment: an observer is in a closed room whose walls, floor, and ...
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Why are lasers inefficient?

Why are lasers inefficient? Is it because of the heat lost during lasing? Why couldn't there be thermocouples or turbines in parts of the cooling circuits to extract something out of that heat?
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1answer
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Is there a limit to the visual information a photon can carry?

As photons bounce around and finally find their way into our eyes, are they continually relinquishing the information of the previous thing they "bounced off of"? Is this the reason why we receive a ...
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2answers
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Hydrogen transition and photon behavior

consider a transition for an electron in the Hydrogen atom from the ground state to the 1st excited state. Let's say this transition occurs through absorption of a photon of exactly the energy ...
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3answers
833 views

Photon statistics of an incandescent light source

We usually calibrate the cameras on our microscopes by capturing 20 images of a blurry (not sharp) fluorescent particle. For each pixel in this stack of 20 images we calculate the intensity variance. ...
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1answer
671 views

How does dynamic casimir effect generate correlated photons?

There is a recent paper on arxiv receiving lot of acclaim http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.4714 The authors experimentally show that moving a mirror of a cavity at high speeds produces light from high ...
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Can a photon exiting from a gravity well ever reach a frequency of zero / wavelength of $\infty$?

In reading another question about gravity's effects on a photon, I wondered if it were possible for a photon to ever be redshifted to zero wavelength. I know that black holes have a gravity field ...
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How is the mechanism of greenhouse gases interacting with IR radiation?

How does atmospheric CO2 and other Greenhousgases (GHG) affect the incoming (from sun) and outgoing (from earth) radiation. I understand that at certain wavenumbers (or areas of wavenumbers) in the ...
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1answer
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Tachyons and Photons

Is there a particle called a "tachyon" that can travel faster than light? If so, would Einstein's relativity be wrong? According to Einstein no particle can travel faster than light.
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Photon absorption

[sorry, this way below the level of this forum -- flames are most welcome] When a photon is absorbed by a piece of matter that does not reflect it -- where does the photon "go"? Eg, one shines light ...
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3answers
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Distant bodies emitting photons

This comes from a discussion forum, where a friend of mine asked the following: We can see objects in space billion of light years away, right? I started wondering about that. If you take 2 ...
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Why and how, in QED, can excited atoms emit photons?

The quantum mechanics of the structure of atoms as determined by the electromagnetic forces inside them correctly describes the location and coupling of the different energy levels in essentially all ...
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4answers
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Why photons transfer to electrons perpendicular momentum?

Linear antenna directed along z, photons (EM waves) propagate along x. Momentum of photons have only x component. Why electrons in antenna have z component of momentum?
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1answer
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If 100% of the energy from the sun is reflected back into space

100% of the energy from the sun is reflected back into space, it's just shifted from a low-entropy state to a high-entropy state, and from a high frequency (ultraviolet) to a low frequency (infrared). ...
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Action - Reaction pair, through photons

Here's an example to describe the issue: Suppose a high-power laser (e.g., a 100 kW laser, i.e., an electromagnetic weapon) is fired at a target, then it will receive energy and move, (and likely ...
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Particles, waves and parallel wire filters. Transmission formula?

If I think of a photon as a particle, I think a parallel wire filter should transmit proportionally to the uncovered area. (and reflect proportionally to the covered area). Obviously polarization ...
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4answers
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Radio waves and frequency of photon

How radio waves create the current in antenna in terms of photons? If it is Compton scattering then why is not changed the freuency of photons?
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What is “pure energy” in matter-antimatter annihilation made of?

I used to read the term "pure energy" in the context of matter-antimatter annihilation. Is the "pure energy" spoken of photons? Is it some form of heat? Some kind of particles with mass? Basically,...
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What do ants see?

After watching some ants in my garden today, and then looking at this very illuminating demonstration, I got to wondering, about what they would see. Not specifically ants (I understand their ...
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1answer
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Light waves and Schrödinger probability waves

Ok, bearing in mind that I only have a brief understanding of quantum mechanics (no formal education, only from reading about concepts in books), so I could be way off here, I have a question ...
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4answers
1k views

Nature of Photons

Why is it that photons are emitted in bundles? My physics teacher's answer was "it's complicated"...
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3answers
851 views

Have CMB photons “cooled” or been “stretched”?

Introductory texts and popular accounts of why we see the "once hot" CMB as microwaves nearly always say something about the photons "cooling" since the Big Bang. But isn't that misleading? Don't ...
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Is energy exchange quantized?

In the photoelectric effect there is a threshold frequency that must be exceeded, to observe any electron emission, I have two questions about this. I) Lower than threshold: What happen with lesser ...
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2answers
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Is spin is a conserved entity?

Suppose that an electron with spin up emits a photon in the field of an ion (bremsstrahlung). What is the spin of the emitted photon? Is it correct to say that the photon is circularly polarized if ...
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1answer
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How does a particle of light reach the max speed of light? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How can a photon have no mass and still travel at the speed of light? First of all I am not a professional physicist. I was curious as to how a particle of light can reach the ...
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Photon hitting an atom with higher energy than needed to ionize

Suppose we have an atom with several energy levels (e.g. an hydrogen), and it is hit by photons. I know that in order to have the atom change energy levels, the photon must have an energy level ...
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Kinetic Energy vs. Potential energy with regards to creating particles

So I know that when you collide particles with high enough kinetic energy, (kinetic energy = at least the rest mass of the particles you are making), you get particles. How come potential energy ...
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Could a bubble of photons make a spaceship massless? [closed]

I'm not sure how theoretically possible this is but my question is... If we could somehow make a perfect bubble of photons (a massless bubble) and put a spaceship inside it, could it therefore ...
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0answers
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Maxwell's Demon - laser cooling

There’s an interesting article on Scientific American that tells how to cool individual atoms to within a very tiny fraction of Absolute Zero. It uses two laser beams acting on a very cold rarified ...
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6answers
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Does a photon interfere only with itself?

I sometimes hear statements like: Quantum-mechanically, an interference pattern occurs due to quantum interference of the wavefunction of a photon. The wavefunction of a single photon only ...
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Does $E = mc^2$ apply to photons?

Photons are massless, but if $m = 0$ and $E=mc^2$, then $E = 0c^2 = 0$. This would say that photons have no energy, which is not true. However, given the formula $E = ℎf$, a photon does have energy ...
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When lasers are used to cool atoms or ions, etc where does the heat go?

According to the first law of thermodynamics, sourced from wikipedia "In any process in an isolated system, the total energy remains the same." So when lasers are used for cooling in traps, similar ...
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Anti-laser: How sure we are that energy is transported?

Reading this PE question can-we-transport-energy-over-infinite-distances-through-vacuum-using-light, a related question arises naturally: Is energy transported (by light)? -- (I did believed in this ...
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812 views

Does the potential energy for a given photon increase or decrease in quanta?

As a photon leaves a strong gravitational field, it loses energy and redshifts. Is the exchange in potential energy of a photon characterized by energy quanta?
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1answer
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What happend with the light from all the galaxies visibles from an earth telescope?

Supposing it's possible to see some distant galaxies with an earth telescope, then, at the tip of the telescope lens there are photons comming from the distant galaxy... So, if I extend my hand in a ...
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3answers
2k views

Redshifted Photon Energy

A photon emitted from a receding source (Doppler redshift) has less energy when detected at an observer's location. Please explain the energy loss from the perspective of energy conservation.
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452 views

Radio waves and frequency of photon

Is 89MHZ station emitting photons of 89MHZ frequency? (I mean $\nu$ in $E=h\nu$).
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How to count photons

How are photons counted? What is the experimental setup used to count photons from a laser or even a lamp? Of course, in the case of the lamp, I would be able to count only the photons that pass ...
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2answers
4k views

Why can't massless particle exceed speed of light?

Why massless particle can't exceed speed of light?
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6answers
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Why can't photons have a mass?

Why can't photons have a mass? Could you explain this to me in a short and mathematical way?
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3answers
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Reconciling refraction with particle theory and wave theory

I have searched the web for good answers to why refraction occurs when light moves from one medium to another with different density. I have limited background in physics and want to know if there is ...
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9answers
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How can a photon have no mass and still travel at the speed of light?

I've read a number of the helpful Q&As on photons that mention the mass/mass-less issue. Do I understand correctly that the idea of mass-less (a rest mass of 0) may be just a convention to make ...
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1answer
288 views

Observing photons

Your replies to my question about being able to see a photon, from the side (answer, unanimous, “no”) have raised in me some additional questions. Would it reasonable to think that in consequence, ...
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636 views

Is Time Significant in the Double Slit Experiment

When doing the classic double slit experiment is the time between emitting photons significant at all? Say, a single photon is emitted, the scientist waits T seconds, then emits another photon. Are ...
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2answers
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Is the force carrier of the magnetism in a common household magnet a photon?

As I have understood it, the Standard Model includes particles that carry the different forces, e.g. the electromagnetic (EM) force, the gravitational (G) force. When talking about EM fields such as ...
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4answers
667 views

movement of photons

In a typical photon experiment the photon is depicted as moving across the page, say from right to left. Suppose we were actually able to witness such an experiment, from the side (to position of ...
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3answers
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Do mirrors increase the amount of light in a room?

So if you have a light bulb in a room, and you had a tool to measure the amount of light that's in the room, then let's assume the amount of light only caused by the bulb is "1" If you place a mirror ...
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3answers
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Properties of the photon: Electric and Magnetic field components

Consider an electromagnetic wave of frequency $\nu$ interacting with a stationary charge placed at point $x$. My question concerns the consistency of two equally valid quantum-mechanical descriptions ...