# The Mystery of Photon Motion: How Do Photons Perceive One Another?

• Bos
In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of the speed of light and how it appears constant in any frame of reference. The question is raised about how photons perceive other photons and if they would appear static or moving at the speed of light. There is also a discussion about the definition of a frame of reference and how it applies to photons. Finally, there is a disagreement about the nature of photons and their ability to be in multiple places at once.
Bos
Hey,
I understand GR pretty well and I realize how and why light is constant and appears constant from any frame of reference. My question is that even though nothing can reach light speed except a photon (or massless particle), how would other photons appear to them? In other words, from a photon's percpective, the other photons couldn't appear to be "evading them at light speed" as they do for any other particle because wouldn't this mean that they're in fact moving faster than light? I'll restate the question once more just for clarity. Since two objects traveling side by side at a constant velocity perceive each other to be static, why isn't this the same for the actual photons themselves? And if it is, how can this be possible becuase then the photon is seeing light at a velocity of zero, not c. Hope this makes sense.

thanx

Bos said:
Hey,
I understand GR pretty well and I realize how and why light is constant and appears constant from any frame of reference.
That is only true in SR. It is not a valid assumption in GR. In GR the cordinate speed of light varies with the gravitational field.

Best wishes

Pete

Bos said:
...light is constant and appears constant from any frame of reference.
It seems to me that an accelerating observer or an inertial observer in a gravitational field will not experience the speed of light as constant except for in their immediate vicinity.

Ok, but even in SR, would a photon perceive another photon to be static or evading it at speed c?

Bos said:
Hey,
I understand GR pretty well and I realize how and why light is constant and appears constant from any frame of reference.

Even in special relativity and considering only inertial frames, there is no why to the constant of the speed of light. To be best of my knowledge, it is just an experimental fact that we agreed to take as a postulate.

(which reminds me of a thread I wanted to start; check ou the general physics forum)

I'm not questioning the constancy of the speed of light. I take that for what it is. I'm questioning whether or not a photon would see another photon traveling beside it to be static or moving at speed c?

Ok then.
Start by drawing two photon worldlines, say A and B.
Then try to draw signalling photons from events on A to B.

Now, toward defining a reference frame using radar methods (so that a time standard and a related distance standard can be defined), try to draw signalling photons from B to A.

I see where you're going with this but don't quite get it literally. I get that you need photons in order to see and they have to travel to your eye but I feel like this is missing the point. If you just think simply about it, if you and I were photons, what would we see. Either it would appear that neither of us were moving, or that we'd each see each other moving away at c, since we're both photons. I know nothing with mass can travel at light speed but that's beside the point. Photons can't "see" like we can but they're certainly a frame of reference. So why can't we just put ourselves in that frame?

Bos said:
Photons can't "see" like we can but they're certainly a frame of reference. So why can't we just put ourselves in that frame?

By "see" all I mean is that a photon from a distant event meets the worldline of the observer.

What is your definition of a "frame of reference"?
Be precise, using concepts [spacetime-geometric, measurement-theoretic, etc...] from your relativity course. For an idea of what kind of definition I am looking for, see my post in the first link I posted.

Then let's see if it can be applied to a photon.

photons do not travel as packets of energy - they only exist as probability waves prior to absorption. they are always, however, detected as particles - but this does not mean they travel as particles: they do not. since at the speed of light, there is no distance between one place in the universe and any other place, the photon, once it is emitted, is essentially everywhere in the universe simultaneously. hence the concept of a photon traveling by all possible paths to get wherever it is finally absorbed. hence, your question has no meaning.

jnorman said:
since at the speed of light, there is no distance between one place in the universe and any other place, the photon, once it is emitted, is essentially everywhere in the universe simultaneously. /QUOTE]

Actually you couldn't be more wrong. The whole point of special relativity is to emphasize how light is CONSTANT in any frame of reference. Therefore if light has to move from point A to point B, it DOES take time for it to get there. The photon is NOT everywhere in the universe, as you mistakenly claim. It takes time for light to get anywhere because it has a specific speed (c) and therefore doesn't occupy all of the universe at once. If this were the case then we would all essentially agree on events that occur simultaneously. If the sun were to disappear right this instant, we wouldn't know about it for about 8 minutes. Yet according to you, it would happen instantaneously, which is certainly wrong. You need to at least understand what your talking about before trying to answer someone else's questions.

bos - i have not made a mistake. my answer is quite correct. you are simply overlaying a sub-C perspective. i will use a simpler analogy for you - consider the apparent distance between the Earth and a star which we measure from Earth to be 10 LY's away. we then get aboard our spaceship which can travel at 0.999999C and go to the star. we find that, lo and behold, it only takes us about 2 years to get there - what is this?? have we actually traveled faster than the speed of light and traveled 10 LY in only 2 years? or is the star "really" only a bit less than 2LYs away from earth?

perhaps it is you who should do a bit more thinking before responding...

OK. Sorry for being defensive earlier. I have had people be really rude in the past and I can't stand it. I shouldn't have taken it out on you. Anyway, as far as your scenario goes, now I'm just confused. First off, what is a sub-C perspective (if it's complicated then don't bother). Second, why is the star only a bit less than 2LYs away if it was measured to be 10? What am I missing? Again I apologize, please clear this up for me.

bos - in preface to my response, i must admit to some guile in my postings on this forum. i am one of those people who often profess ignorance by asking seemingly simple questions, just to illustrate (again) just how little we actually understand about the nature of reality. for example, i might innocently inquire "how does a magnet work?", or "what is a field?" and then sit back and watch as several members duke it out, well knowing that no one knows how a magnet works, or what a field is...

so, in that vein, i have posted two previous queries about the scenario above regarding the "actual distance" between Earth and that star, which you may enjoy reading:

and

some good stuff, thanx.

## 1. How do photons perceive one another?

Photons do not have the ability to perceive in the traditional sense, as they are particles of light and do not have consciousness or sensory organs. However, they do interact and behave in specific ways when they come into contact with one another.

## 2. What causes photons to move?

Photons are always in motion, as they are massless particles that travel at the speed of light. They are created and released by atoms and other particles, and can also be absorbed, emitted, or reflected by other particles.

## 3. How do photons interact with matter?

Photons can interact with matter in several ways, depending on the properties of the material they come into contact with. They can be absorbed, reflected, or transmitted through transparent materials. They can also interact with electrons in atoms, causing them to move and emit new photons.

## 4. What is the relationship between photon motion and the speed of light?

Photons are always in motion and travel at the speed of light, which is approximately 299,792,458 meters per second. This is the fastest speed possible in our universe, and it is constant for all photons regardless of their energy or frequency.

While we have a good understanding of how photons behave and interact with one another, there are still some unanswered questions about their motion. For example, we do not fully understand how photons can behave as both waves and particles, and the exact mechanisms of their interactions with matter are still being studied.

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