What is the experience of a photon?

In summary, the conversation discusses how a photon experiences its journey from one event to another and whether it has a frame of reference. It is concluded that a photon does not have a frame of reference and any attempt to assign one will lead to confusion. The concept of a photon is deemed interesting, and the thread is closed.
  • #1
Brian Preece
5
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TL;DR Summary
How does a photon experience its journey from one event to another?
I’m watching TV. An excited electron in an LED in the screen falls back to its normal energy state, releasing a quantum of electromagnetic energy in the form of a photon. Let’s call this event ‘A’ (x1, y1, z1, t1). The wave packet of this photon fills the universe (quantum mechanics). Across the room, after a short time, I observe the photon as its wave packet collapses and transfers its quantum of energy to an electron in my retina. Let’s call this event ‘B’ (x2, y2, z2, t2). This is how I see it, but what about the photon? How does it see the journey?

When the photon travels from ‘A’ to ‘B’ at the speed of light (c), its clock stops; the ultimate twin paradox, (special relativity – simultaneity). It will measure the distance between ‘A’ and ‘B’ using the Lorentz transformation [(x2 – x1)2 + (y2 – y1)2 + (z2 – z1)2 – (t2 – t1)2c2] (general relativity). In simple terms the photon will take zero time to travel zero distance. This is how I imagine the photon experiences the journey.

Am I correct?
 
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  • #2
Brian Preece said:
Summary: How does a photon experience its journey from one event to another?
A photon does not experience anything. Any attempt to pretend that it does will simply result in confusion.

To state this more formally, there is no such thing as a frame of reference for a photon. This is such a frequently asked question that we have a FAQ on it:

https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/rest-frame-of-a-photon.511170/
 
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Likes berkeman and Dale
  • #3
Thank you for your reply, I have seen one or two related discussions since posting this one. The concept of a photon is certainly interesting.

Please close this discussion, as the topic has been thoroughly answered.
 
  • #4
Brian, the way to get a thread of yours closed is to use the "report" button so that a moderator will see that you want to close it.
 
  • #5
Brian Preece said:
Please close this discussion, as the topic has been thoroughly answered.

Thread closed.
 

Related to What is the experience of a photon?

1. What is the nature of a photon?

A photon is an elementary particle that carries energy and behaves as both a particle and a wave. It has no mass and travels at the speed of light.

2. How does a photon interact with matter?

A photon interacts with matter through the electromagnetic force. It can be absorbed, reflected, or scattered by atoms and molecules.

3. What is the energy of a photon?

The energy of a photon is directly proportional to its frequency. This relationship is described by the equation E = hf, where E is energy, h is Planck's constant, and f is frequency.

4. Can a photon be seen?

No, a photon cannot be seen because it has no mass and does not reflect or emit light like larger particles do. However, we can detect its presence through its interactions with matter.

5. How does a photon travel through space?

A photon travels through space in a straight line at the speed of light. It can also be affected by the gravitational pull of massive objects, causing it to bend or curve in its path.

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