What is the maximum temporal resolution ever possible?

In summary, when we read a book, a photon hits the page and excites an atom, which then de-excites and emits a photon corresponding to a specific energy band. The speed at which this happens varies from atom to atom and electron shell to electron shell. Our brain has a limited processing speed, but if it were faster, we could potentially read a page in a millisecond. The number of times the pixels in our eye retina are read out per brainwave cycle is unknown and would require further explanation.
  • #1
I think I am right in saying that when we read a book, (for example), a photon hits the page and excites an atom, the electron that has been excited then returns to its previous state and in the process emits a photon corresponding to some energy band, (this defines the colour we see?).

My question is, how quick;y does this happen, and does this put a restriction on our human 'frame per seconds'? ie. if an atom can only excite and de-excite once every second then we would only see what changes every second? Obviously there is more than one photon and the human eye and brain have there own limitations but I am assuming that humans have infinite processing power.

If atoms do have a limit on this does it vary atom to atom or electron shell to electron shell?

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  • #2
When photons hit an atom like in this letter A, it excites the atoms, and usually de-excites in less than a microsecond or so. The 2p ->1s transition (de-excitation) lifetime in hydrogen is 1.6 nanoseconds, the 6h ->5g is 610 nanoseconds**. This varies from atom to atom, and shell to shell. Some pigments fluoresce, which means that they de-excite via multiple transitions. Some pigments phosphoresce, which means the emitted photon retention time is from milliseconds to minutes. When a de-excitation transition occurs, another photon is emitted, which travels about 1 foot per nanosecond from the page to your eye. On the other hand, our brain waves are a few hertz, or cycles per second.
Sunlight is about 0.1 watt per cm2, or very roughly 3 x 1017 photons per cm2 per sec, so If our brain were faster, we should be able read out 1 page per millisecond. How many times per brainwave cycle are all the pixels in our eye retina read out? Please explain to me how our brain reads out the pixels in our eyes and transfers the images to our brain.

** There is a table of hydrogen atomic state lifetimes in Bethe & Salpeter "Quantum Mechanics of One and Two Electron Atoms", pg 266, and also in Condon & Shortley "Theory of Atomic Spectra".

What is temporal resolution?

Temporal resolution refers to the ability to measure or record changes over time. In other words, it is the smallest unit of time that can be accurately measured or detected.

Why is temporal resolution important?

Temporal resolution is important because it allows us to study and understand processes that occur over short periods of time, such as chemical reactions, physiological responses, and environmental changes. It also helps us to capture and analyze fast events, such as movements and reactions, that may be missed by slower recording methods.

What factors affect temporal resolution?

The temporal resolution of a measurement or recording device is influenced by various factors, including the sampling rate, signal-to-noise ratio, and the inherent limitations of the technology being used. In general, the higher the sampling rate and the better the signal-to-noise ratio, the higher the temporal resolution.

What is the maximum temporal resolution ever possible?

The maximum temporal resolution is currently limited by the Planck time, which is the shortest possible unit of time that can be measured according to the laws of physics. This unit of time is approximately 5.39 x 10^-44 seconds, and it is currently impossible for any technology to record events at a resolution finer than this.

Can temporal resolution be improved?

Yes, temporal resolution can be improved through advancements in technology and methodologies. Scientists are constantly working on developing new and improved methods for capturing and analyzing events at a finer temporal resolution. However, it is important to note that the maximum temporal resolution is ultimately limited by the fundamental laws of physics.

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