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Defined pattern of a photon?

  1. Apr 20, 2009 #1


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    To my understanding, photons are the medium in which electromagnetic radiation is transmitted. These photons follow a sine wave with different wavelengths etc... according to its position on the EM spectrum at the speed of light.
    note* -with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    so my question: why does a photon follow a sine wave opposed to having a linear path or following any other defined path e.g. a spiral pattern?

    When you separate the 2 components of a sine wave, you have the z axis (direction the wave propagates at) and in this case the x axis. the photon follows the z axis at a constant velocity (speed of light). of course. but the x axis is where im confused. the pattern is up, down, up down etc... But what is keeping the photon from just going 'up' or just 'down'?.
    why doesnt it move in all 3 axis (in this simulation) where the x and y axis are oscillating, forming a spiral pattern? Of course there are endless patterns that could be applied. in that case, who says it has to be repetitious?


  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2009 #2


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    Not sure if I exactly understand your question. Who says it has to be a certain way? No one knows WHY the laws of physics are as they are.

    But regarding the photon: they have a characteristic frequency just like a vibrating string. However, thinking of a photon as a vibrating string (or otherwise as something that literally moves back and forth) is taking an analogy too far. Photons are thought to take "many paths" in some views, and they may be neither straight nor in a sine pattern. Those paths interfere constructively and destructively in most situations, somewhat like waves on an ocean. However, you should be very careful not to imagine a photon under any single analogy as one works in some cases, another in other cases, and no analogy works in yet others. Despite our ability to accurately predict photon behavior in experiments, in a lot of ways our knowledge is still not very concise about their underlying nature.
  4. Apr 21, 2009 #3


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    Thanks Mr. C, I think I see your point.
    thanks for your input.

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