Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Mystery of the Photon (02)

In my last posting I discussed the strange relationship between light and consciousness. I would now like to focus in on the second itladian issue regarding light. What I write below is, in many ways, simply a collection of notes and observations that I really wish to record now while they are still fresh in my mind. They may signify nothing, and I am sure that I have made some huge errors of interpretation, but this is a good indicator of where my Daemon seems to be taking me – particularly that recent synchronicities suggest that she is shouting at me at the moment!

Einstein, as a young man, used to wonder what it would be like to travel on the end of a light beam. It was these thoughts that led to the paradigm changing theory of relativity and, as they say, the rest is history.Last night I had a similar, but probably a good deal less, iconoclastic series of thoughts regarding light. These were stimulated by a few passing comments by Michael Shallis in his book On Time.As discussed in my previous posting, light seems to be both a particle and a wave. The particle element of this curiously counter-intuitive dyad is called a “photon”. And photons are weird!Most people who think about this (and few do) visualize a photon as being a very small solid bit of light. This is very, very small, but still a solid thing. However this is not the case. For example a photon has no mass! This means that it has no physical existence in the way that we would normally use the term. If you collected every single photon in the universe and placed them in one place (which would be impossible as they have no real ‘location’ see later) you would still have no mass. They would displace nothing and as such one can only assume that they do not exist within space as we know it.Because they are mass-less they can travel at exactly the speed of light – no faster and no slower. This means that they do not accelerate. When a light switch is turned on the photons that leave the bulb they travel at light speed instantaneously. Now at that speed the universe becomes a very different place from the one we observe.For example from the viewpoint of a photon there is no time. At the speed of light time ceases to flow. So for a photon it is still the moment of the Big Bang!Indeed there are even stranger conclusions that can be drawn from this timeless state experienced by a photon. If I am right in my interpretation then it means that they can travel backwards and forwards in time. We do not have to create exotic super-luminal (faster than light) particles such a tachyons to suggest possible time travel. The humble photon does it all the time (pun unintended).It is known that Space (and, I assume Space-Time) is curved. As such if an object travels for long enough it will arrive back at its initial location. This is like somebody circumnavigating the Earth. This line is technically known as a geodesic. This will apply to a photon. Our photon leaves the surface of Rigel and heads off into the vacuum of space at 299,792,458 metres per second. As long as the universe is expanding at less than the speed of light (which it cannot do anything other than) and it is not absorbed en-route, eventually that photon will end up back at its starting point on the surface of Rigel*1. Now as far as “our “time perception goes, this will take an enormous amount of time, billions if not trillions of years. However, and this is the amazing thing, from the viewpoint of the photon no time will have passed. It will find itself instantaneously back at the start of its journey and ready to do it again and again. Indeed it could do this journey countless times and it would still take, for the photon, no time.Michael Shallis observes:

‘It is strange that light to an observer has a finite measurable speed, when to light there is no time and therefore no space (italics mine).Light seems to interpenetrate the whole universe as if everywhere and every time was “here and now”, and yet to the human observer it travels and it travels at finite speed.’ (On Time – page 62)

So imagine that our photon described above leaves Rigel and arrives on Earth to enter your eye one winter’s evening (assuming you live in the Northern Hemisphere). From your frame of reference the photon left Rigel in 1236 C.E. (773 years ago) – when Cordoba was being retaken from the Moors as part of the Spanish “Reconquista” – but for the photon no time has passed and the fall of Cordoba*2. For the photon the encounter with your eye and the fall of Cordoba are contemporaneous events!Now what is important for me is that light, as a photon or as a wave, is the medium by which we perceive most of the world, and universe, around us. Without light we would quite literally, exist in complete darkness. Light is the medium by which we communicate with the world outside of consciousness. It carries information and yet this medium is mysterious in the extreme. It exists in a timeless place beyond our understanding. Indeed without electromagnetic radiation such as heat, life would not exist and the universe would be a cold, dead place.

The Gnostic Mystic Mani called matter “Bottled Light”. Could this be the real secret regarding the nature of reality? That light, matter and thought are all related in some deep, meaningful way? Could this be a clue to the “Implicate Order” suggested by David Bohm. Could light be the building blocks of my Bohmian IMAX?.

(I am aware of a slight error of logic on my part. If the photon had travelled round the universe it would arrive somewhere on the surface of Rigel but it would be unlikely to be the same place. Rigel’s relative position will have moved in the billions of years of travel and, even more likely, it would have gone supernova eons before the photon gets back. Of course, if we apply the concept of the “Eternal Return” and assume that time, like space, is circular, then maybe the photon would return to the point of its creation on the surface of Rigel and, then, in a form of Stellar Bohmian IMAX, start on its timeless journey again..)

Regarding the Cordoba comment above this is strange, and curiously synchronistic.

If you have not already done so, please check out the “Cordoba” postings by “Mick” on this Blogsite. This will explain why this random choice of the star Rigel is curious. I could have picked any star but my Daemon suggested Rigel. My Daemon then suggested that I find out what event would have been taking place in Europe at the time that the photon left the surface of Rigel. Had to be something to do with Cordoba did it not!

1 comment:

Karl L Le Marcs said...

FORUM: Time and The Photon [by Tony]Phew! Where to start!!!
*smile*

".....from the viewpoint of a photon there is no time. At the speed of light time ceases to flow. So for a photon it is still the moment of the Big Bang!"

Hmmm, not quite! A photon has similar properties to an electron in that, conceivably, one incorporates the whole in that each is fully understanding and indeed counter-dependent on the state of all others, being simply a subjectively observed snapshot of an objective continuum. This means that a photon would indeed be outside of linear or Minkowskian Time but that itself would mean the idea of a "moment" to be contradictory.

"Indeed there are even stranger conclusions that can be drawn from this timeless state experienced by a photon. If I am right in my interpretation then it means that they can travel backwards and forwards in time. We do not have to create exotic super-luminal (faster than light) particles such a tachyons to suggest possible time travel. The humble photon does it all the time (pun unintended). It is known that Space (and, I assume Space-Time) is curved. As such if an object travels for long enough it will arrive back at its initial location. This is like somebody circumnavigating the Earth. This line is technically known as a geodesic. This will apply to a photon."

While Space-Time may well be curved, in order for anything to travel back to its initial location, this curvature would have to be cyclical to Euclidean geometry, by which I mean, in essence, circular. Simple curvature of Space-Time would not mean a photon could travel around the universe back to its original location (either via conventional geometry or via Mobius effects), only a perfectly circular curvature would allow such, and this would contradict the isotropic measurements of the universe from Cosmology somewhat wouldn't it?

"Now what is important for me is that light, as a photon or as a wave, is the medium by which we perceive most of the world, and universe, around us. Without light we would quite literally, exist in complete darkness. Light is the medium by which we communicate with the world outside of consciousness. It carries information and yet this medium is mysterious in the extreme. It exists in a timeless place beyond our understanding. Indeed without electromagnetic radiation such as heat, life would not exist and the universe would be a cold, dead place."

Subjectively I would agree but don't forget certain paradoxes as Olber's Paradox, which I know you are aware of having discussed it with you once in relation to my CtCw.

"The Gnostic Mystic Mani called matter "Bottled Light". Could this be the real secret regarding the nature of reality? That light, matter and thought are all related in some deep, meaningful way? Could this be a clue to the "Implicate Order" suggested by David Bohm. Could light be the building blocks of my Bohmian IMAX?"

Mani's "Bottled Light" concept works if we consider all matter to be merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, thus Light (as with matter itself) is thus bottled (or quantized) energy, to varying degrees. This is yet more evidence to the dynamic cohension of the universe, incorporating Consciousness as a fundamental property of everything.