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What is a photon

  1. Feb 9, 2013 #1
    what is a photon (I am only 10 years old) so could i have some help,maybe a lower down level so I could understand.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2013 #2


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    hi there
    welcome to PF,

    Google would have answered that pretty quickly for you
    here's one response there are dozens of others :)

  4. Feb 9, 2013 #3


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    Hi zinc30, Welcome to Physics Forums!

    We have a saying here: “Google is your friend”. That means using it to search for definitions and explanations of natural processes. You’ve asked a very basic question, and it is an important one. But you have not shown that you’ve tried to learn the answer on your own. We do not spoon feed others here, no matter what their age is.

    Wikipedia is a good place to start with many subjects in science. It’s not 100% reliable, but usually gives a good introduction and explanation. When you search Google using the term “photon” you find the Wiki entry on the first page. The first part of the first sentence is “A photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation, and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force,...” Notice please, the “Contents” list near the top of the page. Seventeen sections are presented, including complete references for further detailed study. Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon

    Here’s my recommendation: Go to that Wikipedia page and read it completely. Then, when you have some specific detailed questions or doubts, come right back here and post them. Members here on Physics Forums are always willing to assist a true searcher trying to learn more science.


    EDIT: davenn beat me to it while I was writing this. He linked to the same page!
  5. Feb 9, 2013 #4
    Light consists of particles that are called photons. Photons are different from the particles that make up matter because they always move at exactly the same speed - the speed of light.
    Also the laws of physics that determine the behavior of photons (quantum mechanics) are complex and different from what most people are used to.
    When experimenting with photons they seem to behave like waves that are part electric and part magnetic. A radio tower for example is said to emit electromagnetic waves. However the tower is really emitting photons, but since photons behave in many ways like waves it makes sense to call them waves.
    When an engineer builds a radio they don't even need to know about photons. They can just imagine the radio sends/reveives waves.
    This is called "abstraction" - most of the time it doesn't matter what something really is, all that matters is what it behaves like. In fact abstraction is the most important concept in all of science and technology.
    If you want a more in depth explanation of photons, watch this video
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  6. Feb 9, 2013 #5


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    great minds ..... ;)

    thanks for the backup

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