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A photon as a phonon in ether?

  1. Oct 1, 2007 #1
    Hi everyone,

    I've been doing some good old thinking about the photon, and how it is a particle/wave etc, and kind of came up with an analogy that kind of works for me, and was wondering if it was applicable. I kind of related it to the idea of a phonon, as a phonon can be considered a particle or a wave, depending how you look at it (am i right...?). I then went back in history and pulled up the idea of ether. Then simply imagine that a photon is a bit of energy travelling through this ether as a phonon...could this not possibly work? It explains wave and particle behaviour...

    I'm pretty chuffed at my idea but I'm 100% certain it's wrong as surely someone else would have considered it before (well they did didn't they =). But can anyone give me an indication of why it is wrong? Can I still use it as a useful analogy or not...

    Thanks anyways,

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2007 #2
    I'm not going to tell you whether you are wrong. I would simply ask you this: how does one detect this aether you are proposing while conforming to all the experimental evidence to-date and the well established theory of special relativity?
  4. Oct 1, 2007 #3
    Sorry I'm no physicist so no clue whatsoever about how to prove it, but I don't think it violates any experimental evidence that I know of...which is very little.
  5. Oct 1, 2007 #4
    the aether has never been disproved, it's just unnecessary so by okham's razor most physicists decry it. just fyi
  6. Oct 1, 2007 #5
    hmmm from where I'm sitting (thats mentally by the way) it seems it could be simpler than the whole conundrum of things I've heard...thats why I chose it
  7. Oct 1, 2007 #6
    this is completely untrue, the Michelson–Morley experiment demonstrated that the idea of a luminiferous aether is false.
  8. Oct 1, 2007 #7
    The ether isn't found and will never be found so it doesn't exist...
  9. Oct 2, 2007 #8
    I'm not sure I sure why you responded to me. Just to make it clear, I didn't say the aether has been disproven (after all, how *CAN* it be *disproven* when many of them are proposed to posses properties that make them experimentally undetectable?), I am suggesting that there is a lack of experimental evidence in support of the aether, which he has to take into consideration if he wants his idea taken even half-way seriously no matter how much "simpler" his conjecture, as well as being a totally useless concept in the context of SR.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2007
  10. Oct 2, 2007 #9
    Be careful what conclusions you draw from experiments. "Michelson and Morley were not able to measure the aether" is a completely different claim from "Michelson and Morley were able to prove that there is no aether". The former is correct, the latter is false.
  11. Oct 3, 2007 #10
    Hmmm ok I understand the Michelson Morley experiment, but mn4j would you mind explaining why this does not disprove aether?

  12. Oct 5, 2007 #11


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    mn4j, in physics we can only go on experiments and you are wrong in logic and fact. The MM experiment does rule out a classical luminiferous aether. If you are proposing a new kind of aether, you should state this clearly.

    Back to the original question - there have been many attempts to re-invent light as a vibration in something, but they fail generally because of the quantum nature of light, and phenomena like particle pair production.
  13. Oct 5, 2007 #12
    If we treat light as a vibration in some medium, then in the same way phonons are the quanta of vibrational modes, could we not explain the quantum nature of light? Also if you are meaning pair production I am assuming you are meaning of photons? As normal pair production could occur as the phonon/light would still provide energy...well I think. But i also looked it up, and there doesn't appear to be such a thing as anti-photons...Hmmm could someone please elaborate???
  14. Oct 5, 2007 #13
    Ok i have been looking round on the net for modern ideas on aether, and found some useful links that seem to be in great support of aether and put forward rather controversial ideas. Think I will start a new thread with this, and get right to the point there,

  15. Oct 6, 2007 #14


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    Hi kcodon, photons are their own anti-particles, as with all Bosons. By pair production I mean for example, electron/positron pair production. Fermions can be born out of Bosons !

    In the LHC at CERN, proton-antiproton collisions will produce very high energy photons which will decay into all kinds of matter. Hard to explain that as vibrations in a medium. ( Pace string theory ).

    As I said there are lots of attempts - some bordering on crackpottery so be careful what you believe.
  16. Oct 6, 2007 #15
    Mentz114 I'm not completely comprehending what your saying about annihilation and matter forming... but thats fine...I'd need a few more books under my belt.

    Oh and being your own antiparticle? Is that just semantics, just another way of saying a boson doesn't have an antiparticle....hmmm

    Thanks for replying anyway,

  17. Oct 7, 2007 #16


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  18. Oct 7, 2007 #17
    Lol I love wikipedia myself (even though it can be edited by anyone and is often opinionated) and read that before replying to your last thread = )

    That was why I couldn't see how this could not be explained by a vibration in
    "aether"...as all thats really needed is energy, which I'm guessing the vibration can give....?

  19. Oct 7, 2007 #18


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    It needs more than energy to create fermions. There's quantum spin and charge to deal with.

    String theories use vibrations in 1-D strings or 2-D branes to explain everything !

    Have fun, but be careful about strange theories, and remember that QED agrees closely with experiment so throwing it out is a brave move.
  20. Oct 8, 2007 #19
    Ah now vibrations in 1D strings is somewhat silly...to vibrate you need to have 2D...mind you I can see what they mean too with 1D, depending how you look at it.

    Ah yes fun is the plan...I'll try remain open to all theories and then make my own judgements from the evidence, though I think a lot of background reading is now in order.

    Thanks Mentz114 for not telling me I'm wrong, in that ever so nice fashion,


    Now, forth to Wikipedia!!!
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