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B Classical equations and light

  1. Jan 1, 2018 #26

    Orodruin

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    I must say that I really dislike this quite popular heuristic. I do not think it adequately describes what is going on and leads to misconceptions and misunderstandings.

    Either way, I generally recommend staying away from ”photons” when discussing classical relativity and instead look at the dispersion relation of plane EM waves in the medium.
     
  2. Jan 1, 2018 #27

    Mister T

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    ##\vec{p}=\left(\frac{E}{c^2}\right) \vec{v}##

    Your confusion is over when we can use equations that apply to massive particles versus equations that apply to massless particles. The equation I wrote above applies to both, as does the one previously mentioned in this thread: ##E^2=(pc)^2+(mc^2)^2##.

    The equation ##\vec{p}=\gamma m\vec{v}## applies only to massive particles. For low speeds ##\gamma \approx 1## and we can write ##\vec{p}=m \vec{v}##.

    Up until now we have been discussing a single massless photon moving at speed ##c## through a vacuum. Once you start looking at collections of photons you see that the collection can and usually does have mass. Having a beam of light scatter as it passes through a medium involves the photons interacting with the atoms that make up the medium. You can try to understand that, but modelling the light as a collection of massive particles moving at speeds less than ##c## will not work in the sense that the model will not be consistent with the way we see light actually behaving.
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  3. Jan 1, 2018 #28

    ZapperZ

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    Furthermore, the CHANGE in the apparent speed of light in a medium is because we tend to measure the group velocity of light! This automatically means that we measure not the speed of a photon, but rather the speed of a collection of LARGE number of photons, which we collectively call "light" or EM wave. This is what we typically measure as the speed of light.

    Zz.
     
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