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Photons and lighting

  1. Aug 30, 2011 #1
    Hello everyone!!

    It's pouring with rain and the thunder is roaring. I was sitting outside watching the lighting and I had a stange thought come to me, the lighting is producing photons correct? What happends to photons after they are produced? Do they keep on moving through things just not lit up because there heat is gone?

    What happends to photons after a certain period of time? - This wasn't the right place to post this, but I'm not sure where else to post it.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2011 #2
    They keep moving away from the location of the lightning strike at the speed of light.
  4. Aug 30, 2011 #3


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    Open Mind - I think you're mixing up photons and charged particles. In the lightning strike, the movement of charged particles is occuring. This then gives off photons.
  5. Aug 30, 2011 #4
    Ahh that makes more sense, appreciate the feedback :]. So what happens to photons in any case once they lose there heat/energy? Are the a black particle o.o? Don't know much about light sorry.
  6. Aug 30, 2011 #5


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    Here you go, read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon

    Photons do not lose energy until they are absorbed by matter. For example, when the light from a lightbulb hits your retina, a molecule in your eye absorbs the photon which causes the molecule to change shape and activate the first process of vision. The photon is now GONE. It no longer exists. The ENERGY of the photon still exists, as it was used to change the shape of the molecule and is now contained within it. Energy and mass cannot be created or destroyed, however matter and light can.
  7. Aug 30, 2011 #6
    Once a photon is absorbed, it ceases to exist. The photon's energy content becomes part of the kinetic energy of whatever absorbed the photon.

    To put this into perspective, not only is the lightning emitting photons, so is the rain the atmosphere, the clouds, the landscape and you. Even as you read this your left elbow (and all other surface areas of your body) is emitting photons that are traveling at the speed of light. All matter emits photons more or less continually (at human scales, at least).

    These photons will have a distribution of energies/wavelengths/frequencies over a range of values. The mean value of this range is a function of the surface temperature and the nature of the surface material.

    P. S. Don't worry too much whether a particular forum is the right place to post a question. If you have a question, ask it! If it isn't the right forum, it will be move to the right forum, and nobody is going to cloud up and rain on you.
  8. Aug 31, 2011 #7
    Ha I love the way you write :p, thanks for the feedback. I can't believe I didn't think of that my self, that everything we can SEE is emmitting photons, so much reflection omg we would be blind if the matter didn't obsorb most of the photons.
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