# Is the speed of light wrong?

## Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi there. Just wondering if the speed of light is wrong for a 3 dimensional universe.

As each photon of light traverses space its velocity is 299 792 458 m/s. And since each photon has a wavelength and amplitude, then the actual distance that each photon travels, depending on its wavelength and amplitude, actually travels a longer distance than the straight line that the speed of light is based on.

Is this assumption correct or do I need to do more research into this.

And if what I have stated is correct then would the wavelength and amplitude of the light wave travel its path because it is encountering something that cannot be seen to give it its wave path. Like an airplane that has a wavelength path if no trimming is done to it as it traverses the gas of the atmosphere.

## Answers and Replies

Related Other Physics Topics News on Phys.org
davenn
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2019 Award
Hi Steven and welcome

You need to do more research ..... Light is not photons travelling in the manner you describe

Others may give more details than I can

Dave

phinds
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2019 Award
Also, you should keep in mind that the speed of light is now a DEFINED value, and a defined value can't be wrong (although we COULD end up discovering that photons don't travel at the defined speed). The "speed of light" is actually short-hand for "the universal speed limit" and THAT is what is the defined value. There is no evidence that light has any mass and so it travels at the universal speed limit. If light were found to have mass (very unlikely) it would travel at less than the defined value for the universal speed limit.

phinds
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2019 Award
And by the way, just as a side comment:

When you come up against something that flies utterly in the face of established science, it is not a good idea to start off reaching different conclusions and stating them as correct (not that you did this, exactly) but rather to start off with the assumption that you have made a mistake somewhere and try to find out where it is. If you have NOT made a mistake you will find the flaw in the established science, but that is very unlikely to happen. If you start off thinking that you have overturned established science you are likely to just end up embarrassed.

jtbell
Mentor
The sinusoidally curving line that people use to depict a light wave is not the path that the light literally follows, that is, the light does not literally "snake" back and forth like that. In the classical picture, it represents (as a graph) the variation in the amplitude (strength) and direction of the electric field at different points along the wave. In the quantum picture, it represents something altogether more abstract.

So what does it represent in the quantum picture of things?

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
So what does it represent in the quantum picture of things?
I think that's beyond the scope of this thread. If you'd like to know, feel free to start a thread in the Quantum Physics forum.

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
As each photon of light traverses space its velocity is 299 792 458 m/s. And since each photon has a wavelength and amplitude, then the actual distance that each photon travels, depending on its wavelength and amplitude, actually travels a longer distance than the straight line that the speed of light is based on.
That is not how photons work. I highly recommend forgetting about photons and learning the classical physics view of light first, which is that light is an electromagnetic wave. This wave has a wavelength and frequency and propagates outwards at c. The thing that is 'waving' in the wave is the electric and magnetic field vectors, which represent the direction and strength of the electric and magnetic forces that the wave exerts on charged particles. For example, an EM wave passing over an antenna will cause the charges in the metal to oscillate first in one direction and then the other at the same frequency as the EM wave.

ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
So what does it represent in the quantum picture of things?
Reread what jtbell wrote. You seemed to have missed his reference to the electric field of light.

Furthermore, I think you need to start with the classical picture of light first, because you already have a wrong understanding of that, before jumping into a more complex quantum picture of light.

Zz.

russ_watters
Mentor
Note also, this isn't how waves in general work. How fast a wave on the ocean is moving is measured in one dimension only as well. The amplitude is not factored into the measurement -- which is good, otherwise it would be difficult to calculate tsunami warning times!

@zapper, I do actually have a good picture of the classical theory if light. I think you mistook me for the chap who started this post.

ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
@zapper, I do actually have a good picture of the classical theory if light. I think you mistook me for the chap who started this post.
Yup, someone pointed that out to me. I apologize.

Zz.

No probs, honest misunderstanding.