Light (wave and particle theory)

  1. How does a gust of wind affect the direction and motion of light according to wave theory and the particle theory?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. clem

    clem 1,276
    Science Advisor

    No effect in either theory, but it might depend on what you mean by "particle theory".
    Wind does not affect photons.
     
  4. Well, it seems like the atoms of air that absorb the lights energy, photon or wave, could mess with the lights path. If the wind is very very fast then the atom that absorbs the energy could move from A, where the energy is absorbed, to B, where the energy is reemitted as light. So if the wind was fast enough there could be a noticeable deviation in the beam of lights path.
     
  5. Once the atom or molecule absorbs a photon, the photon ceases to exist. If the absorber emits a new photon it will be in a random direction independent of the absorbed photon whether or not there is a wind blowing. The motion of the atom or molecule would impart a Doppler shift to the newly emitted light as viewed by a neutral observer which would be detected at a somewhat different wavelength than the absorbed light.

    Under normal circumstances the velocities of gas molecules in random motion making up the gas are vastly greater than the speed of the "collective wind", rendering this question moot anyway.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2009
  6. what is a doppler shift?
     
  7. malawi_glenn

    malawi_glenn 4,726
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

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