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luigirovatti's avatar

Do you agree with the following quote about photons' mass?

Asked by luigirovatti (2325points) December 25th, 2019

“For us to be able to see the light from a star that is literally billions of light years away suggests that an enormous amount of photon mass would have to be emitted from that star into the celestial space around that star. I cannot imagine that as a possibility. [The Aurora Borealis has a different explanation.] We also know the researchers in quantum mechanics claim to have found particles with physical mass that pass in and out of [our physical domain/our existence…] Assuming that the theory of photons having physical mass is true, could the photons be passing in and out of existence as the light’s waveform alternates between states, and the photons’ mass would be from something local instead of from the unbelievable distance to the star that was the original light source?”

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29 Answers

Caravanfan's avatar

Where does that quote come from? It is incorrect. Photons do not have mass.

luigirovatti's avatar

@Caravanfan: “I cannot imagine that as a possibility. [...] We also know the researchers in quantum mechanics claim to have found particles with physical mass that…”

Dutchess_III's avatar

He asked for a source.

luigirovatti's avatar

@Caravanfan, @Dutchess_III: Jim Levale, “Space Chess”.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Another of your questions that confuses the hell out of me. Are you saying that the photon transits between its source and us, and is undetectable anywhere between?

luigirovatti's avatar

@stanleybmanly: This time it’s NOT my fault. This is a quote, I mentioned the source. If you have problem, PM LuckyGuy.

Caravanfan's avatar

Anyway photons do not have mass because they travel at the speed of light. What is a far more interesting question is “do photons experience time?” The answer is probably not, according to Relativity Theory. So that means that a photon that is emitted millions of years ago and hits your eye is hitting your eye at exactly the same time it is emitted.

Zaku's avatar

The quote is a question. And yes, i agree that is a reasonable question. As I was reading the build-up to the question, I had similar thoughts in mind.

Further, it occurs to me as unlikely that it would be mass crossing such distances at the speed of light, also because of various considerations or rate/time/distance and the thinking around the speed of light being constant, etc.

luigirovatti's avatar

@stanleybmanly: Sorry to butt in, but you’re writing for something, like, 30 minutes. 8—()

stanleybmanly's avatar

Distractions at home. Busy day here.

luigirovatti's avatar

@stanleybmanly: Ah, yes, I understand. Merry Christmas! And to everyone you know and/or might be reading this.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Thanks and the same to you all!

Caravanfan's avatar

A photon has no mass because it moves at the speed of light, by definition. It has no momentum—only energy. Nothing that has any mass can move at the speed of light because of the Special Theory of relativity. As objects with mass move closer to the speed of light, their relative mass increases towards infinity. Only massless photons (and presumably gravitons) move at the speed of light. It can not really be explained more without math.

Dutchess_III's avatar

^^^ The man knows what he’s talking about!

Response moderated (Spam)
luigirovatti's avatar

@Caravanfan: It depends on what you mean by mass. Photons have zero “rest” mass. But in nature, there is no photon at rest. All photons have energy that depends on its frequency. We know energy and mass are the different aspects of the same thing. (Einstein’s famous formula) Since photons have energy it also means that photons have mass. But note that, their mass is only coming from their energy. Only, their mass is not intrinsic. In short, yes you can say that, photons have mass! In 1920’s Einstein’s general relativity is verified based on the fact that photons are affected from gravity.

Caravanfan's avatar

@luigirovatti You have a misunderstanding of the General Theory. Photons aren’t “affected” by gravity. Gravity is the result of the curving of spacetime around an object. Photons travel in a straight line but the straight line is curved.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Well they are “affected” in that they too must follow the curve of space time generated by gravity; which is why they cannot for example escape a black hole.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Photons exhibit the properties of both particles (mass) and waves(energy). It’s a trick it gets away with because space/time for it is meaningless. Since it travels at the speed of light, the time from the big bang to now from the photon’s perspective is instantaneous.

Caravanfan's avatar

You might find this video of some interest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRr1kaXKBsU

Dutchess_III's avatar

I love discussions like this.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Caravanfan. I’m a big fan of both those guys.

luigirovatti's avatar

@Caravanfan; @stanleybmanly: I found another quote that continues that in the question above. It says this (more or less): “QUESTION: Are you trying to challenge the theory that if the transmission of light has a component of mass in it, that would prove that all mass cannot travel faster than light?

“No, I have a different argument against that. How can you tell someone about the limit of how fast mass can travel in space when you cannot give me a good reference point to calculate the travel speed of the mass from?”

Caravanfan's avatar

@luigirovatti There is a reference point. It’s the speed of light. The speed of light is the same no matter what. And “how fast” is completely relative depending on the frame of reference of the observer—unless it’s light. Lightspeed is invariant no matter what the frame of reference is.

For example. Let’s say you have a train that is moving at 100 kph. For an observer on the ground, the train moves at 100 kph. However, if you’re on the frame, you’re stationary, and the ground moves past at 100 kph.

Now let’s say there is a second train moving by at 100 kph but the opposite direction. An observer on the ground sees the other train moving at 100 kph (actually -100kph, but whatever), but an observer on each of the trains will see the opposing train move by at 200 kph.

BUT if the people on the train are shooting a light beam out in front of them, everybody, no matter where they are, sees the light beam going at exactly the same velocity.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@luigirovatti He can quote you the speed limit because that’s what Einstein was all about. The fact that any object accelerated to the speed of light approaches infinite mass, and infinite mass offers infinite resistance to acceleration.

Brian1946's avatar

Oddly enough, I learned about Albert Michelson- who first measured the speed of light- in an episode of Bonanza.

Caravanfan's avatar

Holy shit. bonanza. Cool! I’ll have to look yeah one up.

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