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Wave nature

  1. Sep 24, 2007 #1
    Does the photon particle actually go like a wave, or,
    does the photon go straight and there is a magnetic/electric field that is attached to the photon goes like a wave?

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2007 #2
    Wikipediate this. Don't wish to be rude- but this is one of the most oft asked questions in physics. Not that it's a bad question- it's just been covered to death by real experts.
  4. Sep 24, 2007 #3


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    The whole point of wave- particle is that at the level, the distinction between "particle" and "wave" is simply not as clear as at "macro" levels. That is, there simply is no clear difference between them so the question itself has little meaning.
  5. Sep 24, 2007 #4
    The intention for my original question was just to give an introduction to the actual question I have here. I was trying to see, within the photon itself, is anything goes faster than the speed of photon.

    If the photon actually goes like a wave, the speed of photon should be faster that the Michaelson's experiment result, because the photon also did some up and down movement along the path.

    Even the answer is the second one (the fields around the photon goes like a wave), there should be some points (mathematical) in the photon that goes faster than the well known value for the speed of light. I just read the photons spin. So, an outer point on a photon should be faster (linear velocity + angular velocity) than the speed of light (only the linear velocity), right?
  6. Sep 24, 2007 #5


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    You have a lot of misconception here.

    First of all, when we talk about a "wave", we need to be clear on what is "waving". In electromagnetic wave, it is the electric and magnetic field vector (or amplitude) that is oscillating. A photon carries such vectors. However, it is not as easy to describe it when you only have ONE photon. So no, the photon doesn't sit on a wave the way you think a buoy or water molecules oscillate with the wave. That is a totally wrong picture.

    Secondly, a "spin" quantum number has nothing to do with anything spinning. This applies to photon, electron, neutron, proton, etc... You should understand the physics BEYOND just what the "name" implies in ordinary language. The word spin is only significant historically. It has nothing to do with anything spinning.

  7. Sep 24, 2007 #6
    Waves always act like waves, by definition. Classical particles always act like classical particles, by definition. Photons do not always act like waves, nor do they always act like classical particles. Therefore they are neither. The "wave-particle duality" is an oxymoron, for it implies photons really are waves and they really are classical particles.

    I'm not just pointing out a semantic issue here. It is important that we not think of photons as actual classical particles, or as actual waves. This is so we don't extend the analogy too far. Doing so may cause us to presume a falsehood, and also to miss what they really are.

    For example, waves travel in a medium, photons do not. Since there is no medium, we must be careful not to extend the analogy and imagine, for example, somehow changing that medium in some way in order to change the speed of those "waves". There are some possibilities for faster-than-light things going on, but they should not be based on an assumption that there is an aether.
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