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I What does a photon look like?

  1. Dec 1, 2015 #1
    I'm new here and I'm sure others have asked the same question. I understand viewing a particle of light would involve you using light which wouldn't work. But using your wit and process of elimination you could theorize what a light photon could look like. Once again I'm new and have no serious background in physics just a love for it and a lot of questions, so forgive me if I waste anyone's time. But, if a photon is the smallest form of light then could one say that the photon is non luminescent and absent of light? Imagine standing next to a stationary particle of light, a life size photon would you be able to see it?
     
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  3. Dec 1, 2015 #2

    phinds

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    There is no such thing as a "stationary" photon. Photons exist only traveling at the universal speed limit c. Photons are quantum objects. If you test them for particle properties, they show particle properties, but they are not classical particles. If you test them for wave characteristics, they show wave characteristics, but they are not just waves. They are quantum objects. I have no idea how you would visualize one and I'm not even sure that is a meaningful question.
     
  4. Dec 1, 2015 #3

    Orodruin

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    You are asking a question that is invalidated by your own first statement that you cannot really see a photon, which is true. After that you tell us to ignore the laws of physics and tell you how it looks. Of course you will not be able to get a physics answer to such a question as you have just said physics do not apply. If so, it might look like a unicorn or a banana, your chilce.

    Also, photons cannot be stationary or magnified.
     
  5. Dec 1, 2015 #4
    I understand they can't be stationary that why I said imagine, I also know photons can be both wave and particle. What I am asking is very simple what would a photon look like IF YOU COULD SEE IT. Also I understand you can't change the size once again this takes a little imagination but IMAGINE standing next to a photon, this time let's shrink ourselves because that's more plausible. I am simply asking a physicist point of view. I understand the laws state so many things that prevent us from knowing what a photon can look like. I'm asking what COULD a particle photon look like? There's no need to be 14 year old school girls about your answer, it just takes a little imagination with the what you do know.
     
  6. Dec 1, 2015 #5

    Orodruin

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    You cannot honestly ask a question like this and expect any other answer. Your question is unphysical and can therefore not be answered within the current understanding of physics. It is like asking what you would do when the traffic light shows blue. The logic is similar to "imagine the laws of physics do not hold, what do the laws of physics say about X?" There simply cannot be a scientific answer to this question.
     
  7. Dec 1, 2015 #6

    Ibix

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    Your question is like asking what blue would be like if it were red. The question makes no sense and any answer will be nonsense, imagination or no.

    In relativity, light must always be travelling at c. Asking what it looks like stationary is asking what something looks like when it is stationary and travelling at 300,000km/s. There's no way to even begin to answer the question.
     
  8. Dec 1, 2015 #7
    It takes a lot to overcome the idea that things at that scale have no macroscopic analogy. At that scale, it's best to simply think about quantum objects mathematically.
     
  9. Dec 1, 2015 #8

    PeterDonis

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    The OP's question is not well-defined. Thread closed.
     
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