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Photons and Matter

  1. Feb 18, 2016 #1
    [Mentor's Note: Post split off from this thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/are-tracks-in-collision-experiments-proof-of-particles.857255/]

    I'm sorry, If a photon is a particle of energy, or bosom, and neither matter nor energy can be created nor destroyed, what happens to the photon as light reaches its limit and dissipates. What does a particle of energy become? In fact, do the tracks of particles in the collider mean that particles simply leave? Where do they go? Or do they change into energy after colliding? Energy dissipating? Is this what Entropy means? Then all the matter in the universe is losing mass by being either made of energy or being held together by such in the first place? Just how far does photon go before it ceases to be? Same with the electron. The force that propels it is the photon, yet the electron only goes so far as the volt sends it in whatever conductor is used. When forces in nature balance the lack of electrons with static electricity, photons also push this electricity from cloud to ground and ground to cloud. But what happens to the photons? Are they part of the balancing process between cloud and ground, or dissipate as light given off from the charge? And where to photons go in the lightning that goes upward from clouds? And why the different color of the charge?
    When substances are heated, they light up. Are photons part of the structure of atoms? Electrons can move to higher levels when atoms are "excited". Where do photons go? They must be there. They most be there in abundance. Because if we were to say, split an atom of iron, wouldn't this cause a release of energy that would include photons.
    In some models, introducing a neutron to an atom causes an atom to "give off" a photon. What happens to this photon. In fact, in a nuclear reaction do all neutrons released manage to find another atom. Or do many "miss" them to hit atoms that rather than split, merely give off a photon? After all the radioactive matter of a nuclear reaction is split, do other substances change into different elements having nuclei containing new numbers of neutrons, and thus becoming an ion, but also is different yet similar to other ions because they lack a photon?
    How many photons is it possible to get from a single atom? I imagine fewer if the nucleus is small. But even then, considering the release of light energy from the fusion of hydrogen and or helium, there are many photons existing, or are they "in potential" in atoms?
    So when does a photon actually begin? Maybe like a may fly, it has a very short life unless pushed along by some other "force"? So is the light that streams from a flashlight electrons pushed along by photons, or photons given off by a filament pushing them in waves by what force? Are photons then a unit of force acting upon itself, or does some other force act upon them? Are they visible units of energy pushed along by some other undetected energy? Light bulbs that only remain lit as long as power is gven to them? When that force dissipates, not only do the light bulbs go off, but they disappear?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2016 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    First, matter can be created and destroyed. It's mass and energy that can't be created or destroyed.

    Second, light does not have a limit. It will propagate until it is absorbed, at which point it becomes heat, kinetic energy, or potential energy, depending on the details of how it was absorbed and by what.

    All of the above actually. Some bounce around, giving up energy during each collision, while others are immediately absorbed. Some aren't caught by the detectors at all and simply leave. Others decay before moving very far through the detector.


    Not true. A net loss of energy from an object results in a loss of mass, but not all objects are in a net energy loss state. Some are in equilibrium or are absorbing more energy than they are giving up.

    I wouldn't call the electric field that moves an electron through a conductor a photon.

    Photons are generated by accelerating charges, such as the charges accelerated back and forth in a radio antenna, or by the transition processes in atoms. They do not exist before this acceleration, and they certainly don't exist inside of atoms. Until the atom creates the photon, by some sort of transition between energy levels, it does not exist.

    When it is created by some process.

    Photons are the means by which an electromagnetic wave interacts with matter. The hot filament creates EM waves which radiate away from the filament as light.

    The photons emitted by the light bulb propagate until they are absorbed. The light bulb stops giving them off because you stop supplying power to the light bulb, and it takes power to generate light.
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