Fixed Ideas in Physics


I asked the following question on Quora.

Isn’t comparing the speed of a mass particle to the speed of a mass-less photon like comparing apples to oranges?

The answers I got are unsatisfactory to me because they simply spout some fixed ideas.

To me position in space and time are the basic concepts to be clarified. Matter moves in space, but light does not move in space. Light moves in a field, and the field moves in space.

When Einstein said that there is no such thing as “material based aether” in which the electromagnetic disturbance was supposed to be propagating, he basically established electromagnetic field, as a more basic substance than matter.

Motion of matter may then be compared to motion of field. That would be apples to apples. Light is a disturbance within the field, so that would be oranges.

In an atom, the matter part is nucleus, and the field part is electronic shell. The electronic shell seems to provide a wider context in which the nucleus exists. It seems to me that material properties are a limiting condition of field properties per Bohr’s principle of correspondence.

Therefore, matter should be considered in the context of field, instead of the other way around.

The other confusion seems to be about definition of “particle”. Photon is described as a particle, but people forget that photon is a particle only in context of energy and not in context of space.

Detection of a photon requires energy interaction. Energy has been the basis of quantum since the time Planck postulated it to resolve the ultraviolet catastrophe of black body radiation. When we count quanta we are counting lumps (particles) of energy.

But the photon can still be a wave in space. That is pretty clear from the wavelike behavior of light where energy interactions are not involved. So where is this assumption of photon being a particle in space coming from?

To me the subject of quantum mechanics is looking at space through the “filter” of energy. On the same note, relativity is looking at space and time through the “filter” of matter.

This does not mean that quantum mechanics and relativity are not right. They are right in many of their conclusions. But they are hiding behind math and do not have correct explanations for space and time.



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