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Considering Photons As “Spatially Confined Wave-Packets”
Dimitris J. Panagopoulos National Center for Scientific Research "Demokritos", Athens, Greece. Department of Biology, University of Athens, Greece Radiation and Environmental Biophysics Research Centre, Athens, Greece
The present theoretical study examines a possible revision in the current corpuscular photon model, to account for a physical quantum explanation of the light interference facts as originally described in Thomas Young’s double-slit experiments as well as in subsequent experiments. The light interference effect still constitutes a “mystery” for quantum mechanics, in spite of theoretical efforts to explain it (in terms of the current photon model) that lack physical meaning. We re-examine the facts that led to the establishment of the current corpuscular photon model. We accept that - at least - natural electromagnetic radiation does not consist of continuous waves as was considered in classical electromagnetic theory, but consists of energy quanta (photons), emitted as a whole and carrying energy hν. However, we suggest that each individual photon should not be considered as (indivisible) “particle” transmitted in a single direction and absorbed only as a whole, but rather as a wave-packet. Further we suggest that this wave-packet consists of a (divisible) bundle of identical adjacent, radial waves/pulses of certain length and distinct frequency, polarization, and phase, transmitted independently from each other on a part of a spherical surface in multiple directions within a solid angle. The radius of the spherical surface increases with the velocity of light. The photon’s divergence angle is determined by the screening during its emission by the electron clouds of its atomic/molecular source. Such a wave-packet can spread discontinuously over ever larger volumes by increasing the distance between adjacent radial pulses, or can be collimated and confined within narrow beams as in the case of lasers or directional antennas. According to this new photon model which we name “Spatially Confined Wave Packet” (SCWP), each photon may be generated as a whole but not necessarily absorbed or transmitted as a whole. In this way the light interference facts can be given a quantum mechanical interpretation with physical meaning, as the result of superposition between two parts of the same divisible bundle (photon) of identical pulses. We show that - in spite of widespread opposite information from text books - actually there is no condition in Planck’s, Einstein’s, or Compton’s original works that force us to accept that photons are transmitted in a single direction or absorbed only as a whole as “particles”, and neither any subsequent experimental fact force us to do so. Considering photons as SCWP, we present an alternative explanation of the photoelectric effect, as well as an alternative proof of Compton’s equation, and suggest a natural quantum interpretation of the light interference facts.
The year 2015 is announced “The International Year of Light” We shall use the term “light” for natural electromagnetic radiation (EMR) (cosmic microwaves, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, gamma rays) and several forms of artificially triggered atomic/molecular electromagnetic emissions (such as from light bulbs with thermal filaments, gas discharge lamps, x-rays, lasers, etc.) throughout the text. Thus, in the term “light” we do not include man-made electromagnetic fields (EMF)/EMR such as artificially produced radio-frequency (RF) waves/microwaves, extremely low frequency (ELF) fields associated with power transmission lines, etc. From the point of view of a radiation biophysicist, not a quantum physicist, after working on a study showing that the increased bioactivity of man-made EMR is - in a significant degree - due to the fact that it is polarized, in contrast to natural EMR which is not (Panagopoulos et al 2015), and revisiting again after years the light interference facts, the following thoughts were emerged: There is still a conflict between the “particle” image of the photon (the elementary quantum of electromagnetic energy) as originally suggested by Einstein in 1905 and retained up-to-today, and the light interference effect discovered by Thomas Young in the early 1800s and reproduced since then in different versions, even with attenuated light, or “single photon” sources (Planck 1901; Einstein 1905a; Taylor 1909; Pohl 1960; Alonso and Finn 1967; Fox 2006; Roychoudhuri et al 2008). That was admitted by Feynman to “contain the only mystery” in all of quantum mechanics (Feynman et al 1965). Attempts for a convincing quantum mechanical interpretation of light interference span until recent years (Rave 2008; Hunter et al 2008). As it became clear from the very early light experiments, and resumed/consolidated in the Arago-Fresnel experimental laws regarding the superposition of electromagnetic waves emitted from two (or more) sources, only coherent polarized waves of identical polarization and frequency are able to produce clear and standing interference effects (periodically alternating fringes of maximum and minimum intensity at certain locations/distances from the sources, i.e. bright and dark fringes in the case of visible light) (Arago and Fresnel 1819). In the Young experiments, standing interference effects of natural light were produced in spite of the fact that natural light is not polarized, and - of course - not coherent EMR (i.e. each photon it consists of has a different frequency, phase and polarization). In those experiments, the light from a single source passes through two identical small slits - at equal distances from the source - which in turn become two identical coherent secondary sources, according to Huygens principle (Pohl 1960; Alonso and Finn 1967). But in Huygens principle the electromagnetic waves are considered continuous spherical waves according to the classic wave theory, alike the elastic waves (e.g. sound waves, or surface waves on water). According to the quantum theory of light which rejected the classical wave theory of continuous waves, light consists of large numbers of discrete indivisible energy bundles each one having certain frequency, polarization, and phase, transmitted in a single direction as a “particle”, and emitted or absorbed only as a whole (Gautreau and Savin 1978; Beiser 1987). More specifically, it is accepted that light is produced by large numbers of molecular, atomic, or nuclear transitions of random orientation and random phase difference between them (except for artificially coherent radiation such as lasers). These are excitations and de-excitations of molecules, atoms and nuclei (e.g. an electron absorbs energy, jumps to an exited state/higher energy level where it is unstable and jumps back to its original orbit expelling the additional energy as a discrete energy bundle - photon - of random but specific polarization and phase depending on the specific conditions of that electron the moment it jumped back to its original orbit) (Alonso and Finn 1967; Tarasov 1980; Beiser 1987; Loudon 2003; Grimes and Grimes 2005; Ficek and Swain 2005; Fox 2006). Moreover, it is shown experimentally and it is generally accepted according to the quantum theory, that natural EMR of any type is not polarized, and each individual photon it consists of has a distinct polarization (when seen as a wave-packet according to the accepted wave-particle duality principle). In addition, the different photons are not produced simultaneously but they have random phase differences between them (Alexopoulos 1966; Alonso and Finn 1967; Tarasov 1980; Beiser 1987; Fox 2006; Grimes and Grimes 2005; Ficek and Swain 2005; Loudon 2003). The current corpuscular photon model was introduced by Albert Einstein in 1905 in his study on the explanation of the photoelectric effect. In that study Einstein postulated that, “the energy of a light wave emitted from a point source is not spread continuously over ever larger volumes, but consists of a finite number of energy quanta that are spatially localized at points of space, move without dividing and are absorbed or generated only as a whole” (Einstein 1905a). However, the Young experiments (and any subsequent light interference experiment) imply different properties than these for the photons (Taylor 1909; Pohl 1960; Alonso and Finn 1967; Loudon 2003; Fox 2006). If each photon were transmitted in a single direction, with a distinct polarization, frequency, and phase, then it would go towards the one or the other slit (or in no slit) but not to both slits. Thus photons emitted any moment by the two slits (secondary sources) would have different polarizations and phases from each other and they would not produce standing interference effects on the screen, (even if they were of the same frequency which was not the case in the early interference experiments which employed natural - polychromatic - light sources). In other words, the existence of standing interference effects can only be interpreted either by the classical wave theory contradicting the quantum theory of light (which is unlikely since the quantization of light emission seems to be well-established experimentally), or if we accepted that each photon is not transmitted as a “particle” in a single direction but as a wave-packet in all directions within an angle determined by its emission, and thus it goes simultaneously at both slits, which is what we suggest. But then, it is the Compton effect discovered in 1923 which was considered as the ultimate experimental proof that electromagnetic quanta are totally absorbed by single electrons, and thus behave as particles transmitted in a single direction (Compton 1923a; 1923b). Indeed, nearly all quantum and modern physics text books present the Compton effect as the undeniable proof of the corpuscular nature of photons (Gautreau and Savin 1978; Tarasov 1980; Beiser 1987; Jagielski 2009). Around 1920, several great minds of that time such as Max Planck, Hendrik Lorentz, Robert Millikan, Albert Michelson, Niels Bohr, Arnold Sommerfeld, and other prominent physicists, expressed strong oppositions to Einstein’s hypothesis that light is corpuscular, even though they were supporters of his relativity theory (Einstein 1905b). The basic argument of all those great physicists was interference. After the Compton effect was discovered most of them abandoned their opposition (Brush 2007). The term “photon” for the elementary light quanta was introduced in 1926 by Gilbert N. Lewis who described the photon as a “…hypothetical new atom, which is not light but plays an essential part in every process of radiation” 1 (Lewis 1926). The term was adopted by Compton in 1927 who used it with the meaning retained up-to-today (Wroblewski 2006). Today’s established photon model is a “particle of light” which cannot be divided in two (or more) parts in such a way that we could measure all the parts independently (Feynman 1985). This is in complete opposition to wave-packets of continuous (or even discontinuous as we suggest) distribution of energy in space (even of limited spatial extent as we suggest) which can be divided in that way. The current quantum interpretation of interference considers “the detection of a photon as a measurement that forces the photon into a superposition state. The interference pattern observed in the Young’s double slit experiment results from a superposition of the probability amplitudes for the photon to take either of the two possible pathways. After the interaction of the photon with the slits, the system of the two slits and a photon is a single quantum system. The resulting interference is a clear example of non-separability or entanglement in quantum mechanics” (Ficek and Swain 2005). This interpretation is consistent with mathematical formalization developed by modern quantum physics, ascribing wave-functions on elementary particles (and on photons) (see section 2.7), but has no physical meaning. Thus, according to the established quantum mechanical picture of photons, interference is explained in terms of some kind of unknown “interaction” between the “probability amplitudes”…, or between the photon and the slits, and superposition of two (or more) different photon states. But how is it possible different “states” of the same “particle” to be localized at two different places simultaneously? And what kind of interaction is this that the photon (being a “particle” of zero mass and zero electric charge) even though it goes to the one slit, yet it “interacts” with both in such a way that this “interaction” determines the way it is scattered by the one slit? Any kind of interaction in nature takes place between physical quantities such as matter, energy, etc. Probabilities and wave-functions are mathematical concepts introduced by scientists to describe physical conditions. They are not physical quantities by themselves. In other words, the established quantum interpretation regards a photon which has not been divided, and although it goes through the one slit only, somehow it “senses” the presence of both slits, and necessarily interacts with both of them in order to give interference effects, but … decides to go through the one. What kind of physical “interaction” is this? Or is it super-physical?... The generally accepted understanding of electromagnetic interaction does not predict such a behavior. The attempt to reconcile the conflict between the light interference facts and the accepted corpuscular light nature has spawned different quantum interpretations. From the “Copenhagen interpretation” which is considered as the standard up-to-today, to the “many-worlds interpretation”. According to the “Copenhagen interpretation” suggested by Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, quantum mechanics (QM) does not represent a description of an objective reality but deals only with probabilities of observing or measuring various aspects of energy quanta. The act of measurement causes the physical variables to randomly take only one of the possible values. The “many-worlds interpretation” asserts that all possible alternative outcomes are real, each one representing an actual "world" or "universe" (Selleri 1990; Jagielski 2009). (In our opinion, both interpretations are too complicated and unphysical to account for the natural world). The aim of the present study is to offer some relevant thoughts as a contribution in the search for solution in the long-lasting conflict between the light interference facts and the established hypothesis regarding the nature of photons, and thus provide an explanation with a physical - not unphysical - meaning/content. For this purpose, we reexamine the data which have led to the current understanding on photon nature, and suggest a revision on this. We test our new hypothesis on photon nature by applying this to the photoelectric effect, as well as to the Compton effect which is considered as the experimental “proof” of the established corpuscular photon model. Finally, we discuss our new hypothesis in combination with more recent light interference data from Michelson and Mach-Zehnder interferometers, Michelson and Hanbury Brown-Twiss stellar interferometers, and photon “anti-coincidence experiments”. We do not question the existence of photons (light quanta), but their allegedly corpuscular nature. Instead, we suggest the model of a (divisible) wave-packet transmitted on a part of a spherical surface with a radius increasing with the velocity of light, and confined spatially within a divergence angle determined by the atomic/molecular conditions during the emission (screening by electron clouds and nuclei). This wave-packet may consist of a bundle of independently moving adjacent, radial, coherent pulses of certain length and distinct frequency, phase, and polarization. When photons are significantly confined (as when emitted by the inner parts of an atom) they may be detected as “particles” which is indeed the case for hard x-rays and gamma-rays.
2. Revisiting Important Data on Photon Nature
2.1. “Black-body” Radiation and the Postulation of Light Quanta
The concept of quanta or photons as the energy elements of a radiating body was first introduced by Max Planck in 1901 during his study on the “black-body” radiation2. He postulated that the emission of electromagnetic energy from a “black-body” is quantized and that (in his own words) “the energy element should be proportional to the number of vibrations” (frequency) (Planck 1901):
(h = 6.62510-34 J s the Planck’s constant, the frequency of radiation). The derivation of his famous law of “black body” radiation was based on this crucial assumption. More specifically, Planck assumed that: a) The molecules on the walls in the interior of the cavity oscillate producing multiply reflected waves within the cavity, and these waves are then emitted outside once they are emitted/reflected towards the cavity’s hole. b) There is an energy element in the molecular oscillations (and the corresponding produced waves) at each individual frequency ν. This energy element is given by hν, and the individual energy En of each oscillation (and corresponding produced wave) at frequency ν within the cavity is an integer multiple of this energy element: En = nE = nhν, (n an integer number). The cavity is thus a system of innumerous resonators (oscillating molecules), producing multiply reflected waves (considered as standing waves), and at each individual frequency ν the average energy radiated by each resonator is U. Based on the above postulations and in combination with mathematical/statistical operations (Planck 1901; Trachanas 1981), Planck found that this average radiating energy U of each resonator at a given frequency ν is given by the equation:
(k =1.38110-23 JK-1 the Boltzmann constant, T the absolute temperature in K). Multiplying U by the number of produced standing waves (supposedly equal to the number of resonators) per unit volume per unit frequency () (Trachanas 1981) we get the spectral energy density u(ν) of the emitted radiation (energy per unit volume per unit frequency) which is the famous Planck’s law:
u(ν) = (3)
(c = λν, is the velocity of light in the vacuum or in the air, and λ the wavelength of produced waves). Since Planck’s law (Eq. 3) explained the prior experimental observations for the spectral distribution of the “black-body” radiation, and since its derivation was based on the assumption that the energy of each individual resonator at a given frequency ν is an integer multiple of the elementary amount hν, his assumption was considered to be correct. Then Planck calculated the value of the constant h based on earlier experimental measurements on the “black-body” radiation. Thus, Planck’s law was derived from experimental facts (the already known spectrum of “black-body” radiation) and his successful attempt (by combination of specific postulations and mathematical operations) to find a specific formula which can describe these facts. Planck’s law implies that the emission of electromagnetic energy by individual vibrating molecules is quantized in integer multiples of the quantity hν at each individual frequency3. This does not necessarily apply for the absorption or transmission of electromagnetic energy, since - theoretically - the cavity’s molecules may absorb EMR in quotients of hν, store it, and emit it in integer multiples of hν. Moreover, each emitted quantum of energy hν is not necessarily indivisible as a “particle”. Planck himself denied that the absorption or the transmission of energy is quantized and suggested that the resonator in general (not only at a specific frequency) possesses a non-integer number of quanta (Kuhn 1978; Brush 2007).
2.2. The Photoelectric Effect and the Wave-Particle Duality Principle
Planck’s hypothesis for the existence of elementary energy quanta was subsequently extrapolated by Einstein in his interpretation of the photo-electric effect (Einstein 1905a). Einstein postulated that the quantization does not only apply for the emission, but in addition for the transmission and absorption of light. Most importantly, he postulated that the light quanta are localized at points in space and transmitted in a single direction as (indivisible) “particles”, and thus emitted or absorbed only as a whole. This postulation was called “the Light Quantum Hypothesis” (LQH). The photoelectric effect was already discovered by Heinrich Hertz in 1887 and studied extensively by Philipp Lenard4: When a metal was illuminated by ultraviolet or even visible light, free electron emission occurred from the metal surface which could be transformed into electric current. The current intensity was proportional to the light intensity, but the energy/velocity of the emitted electrons was proportional to the frequency and not to the intensity of light (Lenard 1902). Einstein’s explanation of the photoelectric effect based on Lenard’s descriptions was summarized in his famous “photoelectric equation”5. In Einstein’s own words: “The simplest picture is one where the light quantum gives its entire energy to a single electron; we assume that this will occur….The kinetic energy of such electrons is…” (and wrote his famous equation):
hν = W + me u2 (4)
(W called “work function” is the necessary work - characteristic for the metal - for the release of a free electron from the metal, me u2/2 is the electron’s kinetic energy when leaving the metal surface, me the electron’s mass, and u the electron’s velocity at that moment). But then Einstein added: “However, it must not be excluded that electrons accept the energy of light quanta only partially” (Einstein 1905a). Thus, in the more general case, Equation (4) - as stated by Einstein himself - should be written as a condition:
hν ≥ W + me u2 (5)
recognizing the possibility that the electron may only partially absorb the energy hν of the incident photon. This condition is - in our opinion - extremely important, underestimated by physicists, and totally ignored in modern physics text books. In combination with Planck’s law, Einstein’s Condition means to us that, although the emitted energy is an integer multiple of h, its absorption does not necessarily follow the same quantization, and thus it can also occur in quotients of h. Although Einstein recognized the possibility that light quanta may be absorbed only partially as his Condition 5 states, in the same study (Einstein 1905a) he also stated his LQH asserting that Planck’s light quanta with energy E = hν behave as “particles” transmitted in a single direction and are “absorbed or generated only as a whole”. This hypothesis - of course - contradicts Condition 5 and this contradiction implies that Einstein himself was not sure on whether photons are absorbed partially or only as a whole (in other words he was not sure whether photons are divisible or indivisible quantities). However, strangely the subsequent evolution of quantum mechanics was based entirely on his postulation that photons are emitted, transmitted, and absorbed only as a whole, and totally ignored his Condition 5 as well as his related statement for partial photon absorption. Trying to reconcile the conflicts between the double-slit interference effects and his quantum theory which considered photons as “particles”, Einstein introduced in 1909 the “particle-wave duality principle” for light (Einstein 1909a; 1909b; Trachanas 1981) postulating that photons behave either as waves or as particles depending on the specific conditions. In our opinion, such a dual nature is unphysical and complicated.
2.3. An Alternative Explanation for the Photoelectric Effect
Robert A. Millikan in 1916 published a long paper with his experimental results on the photoelectric effect. Millikan’s experiment measured the maximum kinetic energy of the emitted photo-electrons by a metal surface. Knowing the frequency of the light that exposed the metal, he estimated the work function for the free electrons according to Einstein’s Eq. 3 for typical metals to be 2-5 eV (Millikan 1916) 6. However, he did not accept Einstein’s postulation for the “particle” nature of the energy quanta. In his own words: “Despite then the apparent complete success of the Einstein equation, the physical theory of which it was designed to be the symbolic expression is found so untenable that Einstein himself, I believe, no longer holds to it” (Millikan 1916; Wroblewski 2006). Millikan’s statement seems contradicting when declaring the “apparent complete success of the Einstein equation” and at the same time characterizing his theory “untenable”… But here there is another detail missing from modern physics text books: Millikan’s experimental setup was such that he was measuring not the kinetic energy of the photoelectrons in general, but their maximum kinetic energy. A brief description of Millikan’s experiment is as follows: A photocathode is irradiated by ultraviolet light which causes the emission of electrons and generates an electric current between the cathode and the electron collector (anode). The intensity of electric current is measured by a galvanometer. In addition, a voltage V is applied in the circuit such that the electrons are hindered in advancing towards the collector. When the voltage transcends a critical value, the energy of the applied field becomes higher than the kinetic energy of the emitted electrons (qe V > me u2) and no electrons arrive at the collector (qe, me, u are the photoelectron’s charge, mass, and velocity respectively). If however the voltage is regulated to a value Vo such that the current (as measured by the galvanometer) tends to zero, then qe Vo equals the maximum kinetic energy of the emitted photoelectrons (Millikan 1916). Thus, the kinetic energy measured by Millikan’s experiment was the maximum kinetic energy:
qe Vo = me umax2 = hν – W
Thus, Einstein’s photoelectric equation 4 must be re-written as:
hν = W + me umax 2 (6)
Considering that the ejected electrons are the free electrons on the metal surface and not inner electrons which require a greater work function, and that these electrons are ejected having a range of velocities u umax, the general formula for the photoelectric effect must be written as Condition 5:
hν ≥ W + me u 2
Considering all these, it is not surprising at all that in 1912 Owen W. Richardson derived Eq. 4 for the maximum kinetic energy of the photoelectrons without any postulation for “particle” nature of light quanta, based purely on statistical and thermodynamic principles combined with the laws of classical electrodynamics. He treated electron emission as evaporation due to heat absorption. He applied Planck’s law for the spectral distribution of absorbed electromagnetic radiation, but he did not assume any corpuscular nature of the light, neither that each light quantum interacts with a single electron and transfers all of its energy to that electron. In Richardson’s own words: “It appears therefore that the confirmation of the above equation by experiment would not necessarily involve the acceptance of the unitary theory of light” (Richardson 1912; Wroblewski 2006; Jagielski 2009). We conclude that Einstein’s formula was actually found to be correct as an equation for the maximum electron velocity and as a condition in general, and thus, the postulation of light “particles” was totally unnecessary.
2.4. Photon Momentum, “Matter Waves”, and Complementarity Principle
According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, only massless entities (e.g. photons) can travel at the speed of light. Photons are thus considered to have zero rest mass but they do have energy hν. Einstein’s relativistic formula relating the energy of a particle of rest mass mo with its momentum p (Einstein 1905b) is:
E = (7)
For the photon (mo = 0) the equation becomes:
E = cp (8)
In 1909, Johannes Stark explicitly attributed to the light quanta a momentum value p (Stark 1909) as this comes naturally from Eq. 8:
p == p = (9)
(For a particle at rest (u = 0, p = 0) with mass mo, we get from Eq. 7 Einstein’s famous formula for the energy corresponding to its (rest) mass: E = moc2). Then, Louis de Broglie in his doctoral thesis in 1924 based on Einstein’s wave-particle duality of light, assumed that just as light exhibits both corpuscular and wave behaviour, subatomic particles such as electrons possess in addition a wave nature (De Broglie 1924). De Broglie ascribed a wavelength on elementary particles in accordance with Eq. 9 for the photon momentum:
λ = (10)
(m, u the particle’s mass and velocity respectively).
His hypothesis was very soon confirmed experimentally when it was shown that electrons produce diffraction patterns just like x-rays (Davisson and Germer 1927). (In our opinion, it is easier to comprehend a (sub)atomic particle -moving naturally at speeds approaching the speed of light- exhibiting a wave-like behaviour, than a photon being a “particle”). Finally, Niels Bohr7, after the discovery of the Compton effect, abandoned his strong opposition to Einstein’s corpuscular photon model and introduced the “Complementarity principle” according to which: “Wave and particle are two aspects of describing physical phenomena, which are complementary to each other. Depending on the measuring instrument used, either waves or particles are observed, but never both at the same time, i.e. wave- and particle-nature are not simultaneously observable” (Bohr 1928). Thus Bohr’s Complementarity is very close to Einstein’s Duality.
2.5. The Compton Effect
What is considered as the principal experimental “proof” that light quanta behave as indivisible “particles” (and as such transmitted in a single direction and not only emitted but also absorbed only as a whole, and carrying momentum in addition to energy), was provided in 1923 by Arthur H. Compton’s experiments with scattering of x-rays by electrons on a material (graphite) (Compton 1923a; 1923b). In those studies, Compton adopted Einstein’s postulation that the quanta behave as “particles” with total energy hν and have a momentum given by Stark’s Eq. 9. Moreover, Compton postulated (in his own words), “that each quantum of x-rays is scattered by an individual electron”, and that “it spends all of its energy and momentum” during its interaction with this individual electron. The electron due to this interaction recoils and leaves the material with a velocity u (Compton 1923a; 1923b). Compton considered the interaction at a reference coordinate system/frame where the electron is still before the interaction. At such a system the velocity of the photon is again c according to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity (Einstein 1905b). Then, applying the energy and momentum conservation principles, he showed that the increase in the wavelength of the scattered ray should be given by the equation:
λ - λo = (1-cosθ) (11)
(where λο, λ the wavelengths of the primary and scattered rays respectively, mo the electron’s rest mass, and θ the angle between the scattered and the primary rays). The corresponding equation in terms of frequency modification is:
- = (1-cosθ) (12)
(where νο, ν the frequencies of the primary and secondary photons), and in terms of photon energy modification:
hν = (13)
Let us see how Compton reached Eq. 11. Assuming the photon to be traveling along X-axis before collision, Compton applied the energy and momentum conservation laws as follows:
hνο + moc2 = hν + mc2 (14) (Energy conservation)
= cosθ + mu cosφ (15) (Momentum conservation along X-axis)
0 = sinθ – mu sinφ (16) (Momentum conservation along Y-axis)
In addition he applied Einstein’s relativistic equation for the electron’s mass (Einstein 1905b):
m = (17)
(νο, ν the frequencies of the primary and secondary photons, mo, m the electron’s mass before and after interaction with the photon, u the electron’s recoil velocity after interaction with the photon, and θ, φ the angles of the secondary ray and electron recoil respectively, with the direction of the primary ray). Squaring both sides of Eq. 14 and multiplying by c2, we get
m2c4 = h2(νο2 + ν2 – 2 νο ν) + 2mοhc2 (νο – ν) + mo2c2 (18)
Squaring both sides of Eq. 15 and 16, adding together and multiplying by c2, we get
m2u2c4 = h2c2(νo2 + ν2 – 2 νoν cosφ) (19)
Then, combining Eq. 17, 18, 19 we get Eq. 11 (Compton’s law). The experimentally detected increase in wavelength of the “modified” ray in regard to the primary ray was found to be in satisfying although not complete agreement with Compton’s Eq. 11 (Mo-K x-rays scattered by graphite at π/2 angle from the primary direction, had an observed wavelength increase λπ/2 – λο = 2.2×10-8 m, while the corresponding increase computed by Eq. 11, is 2.4×10-8 m). Overall, for scattering angles 0-180 the wavelength increase predicted by Compton’s theory was in satisfying agreement with the experimental results, and the recoiled electrons although had not been observed but only predicted by Compton (Compton 1923a) were soon detected by Charles Wilson with use of his “cloud chamber” (Wilson 1923) 8. Since Compton assumed that an electron absorbs completely one primary photon (as if the photon were a particle), the verification of his equation by the experiment in combination with the detection of recoiled electrons by Wilson, was interpreted as a verification of the photon’s particle nature. However, we should note that Compton’s postulation that each photon interacts with a single electron only and spends all of its energy on that electron only, is a simplification, not to say an oversimplification. Moreover, there are some additional data in Compton’s experiments which are usually ignored or underestimated in physics text books: a) The acquired spectra of the scattered ray always contain not only the scattered ray with the longer wavelength (“modified” scattered ray) but in addition a scattered ray with the same wavelength as the primary ray (“unmodified” scattered ray). The energy and momentum of this unmodified ray was not taken into account in Compton’s calculations although the intensity of this “unmodified” ray was even stronger than that of the “modified” one at small angles (up to 45). It was considered that the “unmodified” photons are scattered without any loss of energy by inner electrons - which possess a greater work function - as was suggested by classical physics (Thomson scattering) (Compton 1923a). At each different scattering angle the two scattered rays (“unmodified” and “modified”) were both detected, meaning that there was a whole spectrum of scattered rays, not just two rays. b) Eq.11 does not give information regarding the total amount of energy distributed in both “modified” and “unmodified” scattered rays neither the minimum amount of photon energy required for the effect, but only partial information regarding the change in wavelength of a single photon in the “modified” part of the scattered radiation. Moreover, it is noteworthy that Eq. 11 states that this change in wavelength is independent of the incident photon’s energy/frequency/wavelength, and depends only upon the scattering angle. [Thomson scattering refers to excitation of an atomic electron by an incident electromagnetic wave. The wave induces a forced-vibration on the electron but due to unstableness the electron immediately re-emits the absorbed wave in a random direction with the same frequency (i.e. without loss of energy: hν ≈ hνo). According to Eq. 13, this phenomenon predominates in relation to Compton scattering when: hνo mo c2, or at very small scattering angles (for which cosθ 1) (Klimov 1975)].
2.6. An Alternative Explanation for the Compton Effect
In contrast to widespread information through most physics text books, Compton’s Eq. 11 does not necessarily prove that a photon is totally absorbed by an electron. To show this, instead of postulating that incident photons are “particles” and each one is totally absorbed by an electron, let us postulate that the primary incident photons - being wave-packets - are partially absorbed by single electrons. More specifically, let us postulate that only 1/n part of a primary photon energy and momentum interacts and is scattered by an individual electron (1/n of the part of spherical surface corresponding to the whole photon’s wave-front according to our suggested model). Moreover, we postulate that the scattered photon is not a different photon than the incident one, but the same incident photon (the same part the spherical surface) due to “collision” with an electron is scattered with a different frequency. Applying again the energy and momentum conservation principles exactly the same way as Compton did, we come to Eq. 11, without the postulation that each photon is a particle and absorbed as a whole by an electron. [The fact that we apply the momentum conservation principle ascribing momentum to the photon does not mean that it has to be a particle. As explained already (Eq. 9) its “mass” is due to its energy (m = )]. Let us examine this in detail. Assuming that only 1/n part of a primary photon hνo (e.g. 1/n of the whole part of spherical surface corresponding to the whole wave-packet) interacts with a single electron and gets scattered with an altered frequency ν, Eq. 14, 15, 16 become respectively:
+ moc2 = + mc2 (20)
= cosθ + mu cosφ (21)
0 = sinθ – mu sinφ (22)
Applying also Eq. 17 and performing exactly the same operations as described before (section 2.5), we reach again Eq. 11 without postulating the photon to be a particle that transfers all of its energy into a single electron. The above considerations make clear that Compton’s hypothesis that one photon is totally absorbed by a single electron, is not only arbitrary but also unnecessary, and that Eq. 11 is only restricted in the energy exchange of a “modified” photon scattered at a certain angle and does not refer to the energy exchange during the whole phenomenon in all scattering angles. By modifying his hypothesis and not considering the photons as particles, we reached the same equation for the increase in the wavelength of the “modified” scattered rays. We showed that the interaction of a part of the incident photon () instead of a whole photon (hνο) results in the same change in wavelength of the modified ray. This is in agreement with our remark that the change in wavelength in Compton’s Eq. 11 is independent of the incident photon’s energy, and depends only upon the scattering angle. Moreover, even though hνo is not negligible compared to moc2 for x-rays, and thus the probability for Thomson scattering is small, there is abundant co-existence of the “unmodified” secondary spectrum in the Compton effect, not only at small scattering angles (θ 45) where the unmodified ray is expected to predominate, but also at large scattering angles (90-180) where this ray still has a significant intensity according to experimental results presented by Compton himself (Compton 1923b). However, if Wilson had shown that all the recoiled electrons have energies corresponding to the absorption of a whole x-ray photon, that would have been a proof of Compton’s and Einstein’s postulations. But this is not the case either. A close look at Wilson’s studies shows that Wilson detected a whole range of “long” and “short” electron paths in his cloud chamber which do not undoubtedly correspond to whole x-ray photon absorption. Thus, while according to Compton’s calculations the maximum kinetic energy of a recoiled electron having absorbed a whole x-ray photon is ~300 keV (corresponding to a maximum electron velocity, umax = 0.82c), Wilson detected electrons the vast majority of which had energies significantly below 20 keV (Compton 1923b; Wilson 1923; 1927). This can be interpreted that a few electrons absorb a whole x-ray photon while the vast majority of recoiled electrons absorbed quotients of a photon. This is in agreement with our suggested photon model, and the fact that x-rays (and consequently photons) are significantly more localized (confined in space) than infrared, visible, or ultraviolet. Thus, in reality Wilson’s experiments indeed verified the ejection of electrons by the x-rays, but not necessarily Compton’s postulation that photons are absorbed “only as a whole” by each recoiled electron. Thus, the Compton effect is erroneously regarded as the “proof” for the photon’s “particle” nature. Compton discovered and explained the change in the wavelength/frequency/energy of the modified ray, as well as predicted the ejection of electrons from a material by x-rays (which were extremely important findings anyway), but nothing more than that. The existence of a whole spectrum of scattered photons with unmodified wavelength as classic physics would predict (Thomson scattering) shows that classical interpretation is also partly valid, since about half the number of the primary photons interact with electrons and get scattered without any loss of energy. Even if we consider that all the “unmodified” photons interact with inner electrons for which a greater work is necessary to be offered in order to be extracted from the atom, the x-ray photons used in Compton’s experiments are produced by de-excitation of inner electrons and thus they carry sufficient energy to expel inner electrons. Moreover, they certainly carry abundant energy to expel outer electrons. Why should we accept that they do not interact with outer electrons but in contrast, they leave the outer electrons unaffected, penetrate and interact with inner electrons? Isn’t this a less likely scenario? But according to our suggested SCWP model the reasoning gets significantly simpler: A fraction of the x-ray photon energy may well be not sufficient for expelling inner (or even outer) electrons, so it is simply reflected without energy exchange. Thus our suggested photon model may possibly provide a more realistic interpretation for the abundant “unmodified” spectrum in the Compton effect. A possible explanation for the whole spectrum (“modified” and “unmodified”) acquired in Compton’s experiments in accordance with our suggested photon model (SCWP) can be that, one part of an incident photon which carries sufficient energy gets scattered by an electron (which recoils) and gets modified (), while a smaller part of the same (or of another) photon - corresponding to insufficient amount of energy (n2 > n1) - is simply reflected by another electron without energy exchange. By the above alternative derivation of Compton’s equation, we do not prove that photons are indeed partly absorbed by individual electrons, but we do show that this is possible, and in addition, this hypothesis possibly offers a more realistic explanation for the existence of the “unmodified” spectrum of the scattered rays. In other words, we show that Compton’s equation does not necessarily prove that photons behave like “particles” as was erroneously interpreted and spread widely in text books. Thus, it is clear that neither the photoelectric nor the Compton effect necessarily indicate or even more prove the “particle” nature of photons, as dogmatically claimed in modern physics text books. This conclusion has been independently stated by other investigators as well, following very different approaches than ours (Milonni 1997; Brush 2007; Jagielski 2009).
2.7. Wave-Function and Schroedinger Equation
In 1926 the Austrian physicist Erwin Schroedinger in an attempt to describe mathematically the matter waves associated (according to De Broglie) with an elementary particle (e.g. an electron in an atom), introduced the quantum mechanical “wave-function”
(r, t) = ei(pr-Et)/ ħ (23)
(where: ħ = h/2π) as this is directly deduced from the classical wave-function
ξ(r,t) = ei(kr-ωt)
that describes a plane wave of circular frequency ω=2πν (ν the frequency) and wave-number k = 2π/λ (λ the wavelength), at distance r from its source along the direction of propagation (Alonso and Finn 1967). [i is the imaginary unit (i2 = -1)]
The square of the wave-function 2 supposedly describes the probability for the particle to be localized at the position r at a certain instant t (e.g. the probability for an electron to be found at distance r from the nucleus at a given instant). That was arbitrarily accepted in analogy with classical wave physics (again) where the square of the oscillating quantity is proportional to the energy density of the wave. Equation 23 comes directly from the classical wave function, by substituting ω and k with their corresponding quantum mechanical expressions (derived directly from Planck’s and De Broglie’s Equations 1 and 10 respectively):
ω = E/ħ and k = p/ ħ Differentiating Eq. 23 with respect to r and t, we get correspondingly:
-i ħ(/r) = p (24)
and i ħ(/ t) = E (25)
Thus, the operator –iħ( / r) corresponds to the momentum of the particle, and the operator iħ( / t) corresponds to its energy. In classic physics the total (conserved) energy value E of a particle with mass m and momentum p moving in a potential V(r) is given by the Hamiltonian function
H(r, p) = p2/2m + V(r) (26)
and it is the sum of kinetic and potential energy. Thus, the equation
E = p2/2m + V(r)
expresses the energy conservation law. Since the wave-function (r, t) was introduced to represent the wave associated with the particle under study, Schroedinger demanded a-priori that it must satisfy the equation:
E = (p2/2m) + V(r) (27)
Substituting (a-priori again) in the last equation the energy and momentum by the corresponding operators from Equations 24, 25, we get:
i ħ( / t) = - (ħ2/2m)( 2/ r2) + V(r) (28)
Thus, Equation 28 describes the energy conservation law for a “matter-wave” at position r and it is called the Schroedinger equation in one dimension. For a particle/”matter-wave” moving in three dimensions the Schroedinger equation becomes:
i ħ= -2 + V(r) (29)
(where: 2 = 2/ x2 + 2/ y2 + 2/ z2 the Laplace operator) In a space free from any fields, V(r) = 0, and the Schroedinger equation becomes:
i ħ= -2 (30)
According to Eq. 29, the quantum mechanical wave-function cannot be a Real function since in such a case the first part of Eq. 29 would be imaginary and the second part real which is impossible. Thus, does not represent a real wave that can be physically observed (measured/detected) as with classical waves in which the wave-functions are Real functions. It is a complex function possessing a real part and an imaginary part, and represents a “probability wave”. Its square supposedly represents the probability density for the particle to be found at a certain location. The Schroedinger equation9 (29) describes the energy conservation for the transmission of a “matter-wave” associated with an elementary particle. It was arbitrarily introduced without proof by Schroedinger based on De Broglie’s assumption that elementary particles posses a wave nature. As described, Schroedinger took the classical wave-function, substituted ω and k by their quantum mechanical expressions given by Planck and De Broglie respectively, and combined (multiplied) his quantum mechanical wave-function with the energy conservation law for a particle. Surprisingly, his equation was successfully applied to describe the movement of elementary particles, such as the electrons in an atom. Its solutions are certain expressions for the wave-function the square of which represents the probability of finding the electron at a specific location around the nucleus at any moment. For the simplest case of the hydrogen atom with a single electron, Schroedinger equation gives the energy values for the electron predicted by Bohr’s theory. The quantum numbers introduced by Bohr and Sommerfeld empirically to describe the energy states of the electron in the hydrogen atom (shape of the electron “cloud”, or shape of the different orbitals) can be deduced by solving the Schroedinger equation for this atom. For multi-electron atoms the equation becomes very complicated to be solved and we accept that the electrons occupy successive electronic states of the hydrogen atom.
2.8. Uncertainty Principle
Let us now consider a number of plane waves transmitted in a certain direction (e.g. along the X-axis). These waves are superimposed to each-other forming a resultant wave-packet. This wave-packet includes a range of circular frequencies Δω and a range of wave-numbers ΔkX, and thus includes a temporal and spatial dispersion Δt and Δx respectively which can be shown classically (Alonso and Finn 1967; Tarasov 1980) that satisfy the conditions:
Δkx Δx ≥ 1 (31)
and Δω Δt ≥ 1 (32)
These relations are well-known in classical wave-physics. Based on these relations and substituting ω and k by Planck’s and De Broglie’s equations (ω = E/ħ and k = p/ ħ), the German physicist Werner Heisenberg10 stated in 1927 his famous “Uncertainty Principle” according to which, the simultaneous accurate measurement of the position and momentum (or velocity) of a particle, is not possible. Equivalently, the simultaneous accurate measurement of a particle’s energy and time is similarly not possible:
Δpx Δx ≥ ħ (33)
and ΔE Δt ≥ ħ (34)
(where: Δx, Δpx the uncertainties in the measurement of the particle’s position, and momentum respectively, and ΔE, Δt the uncertainties in the measurement of energy and time for the particle). As we saw, Conditions 33, 34 are direct transformations of the classical conditions 31, 32 respectively. Position and velocity (or momentum) of a point particle are conjugate independent quantities from each other and their combined notion determines the kinetic condition of the particle. Similarly energy and time are also conjugate independent quantities. Condition 33 can also be written as:
Δux Δx ≥ ħ /m (35)
(where Δux is the uncertainty in the measurement of a particle’s velocity, and m the particle’s mass). Condition 35 implies that for large masses (macroscopic objects) the uncertainty is negligible, but for elementary particles it becomes significant. What actually the uncertainty principle declares is that when we refer to elementary particles such as electrons (and to their corresponding wave-functions) there is no meaning to talk about a specific position or velocity or energy of such a particle, but we can only talk about probabilities for specific values of these quantities. The Schroedinger equation and the uncertainty principle form the basis of modern quantum mechanics. It is certainly noteworthy that both were derived directly from corresponding classical relations by simply substituting ω and k by their quantum mechanical expressions given by Planck and De Broglie.
2.9. The Spreading of the Wave-Packets according to Quantum Mechanics
Based on Schroedinger’s equation for a wave-packet (associated with an elementary particle of mass m) transmitted in the free space (V(r) = 0), it is shown that the uncertainty in the position increases with time (Tarasov 1980; Trachanas 1981). Thus, if the initial uncertainty is (Δx)o, after time t the uncertainty in position (Δx)t is shown to be given by the expression:
(Δx)t = (Δx)o (36)
Equation 36 shows that the uncertainty in the particle’s position constantly increases with time, in other words the wave-packet - describing the probability for the particle to be detected at a specific point in space - constantly spreads. Moreover it shows that the spreading increases proportionally with time, in other words the wave-packet spreads within a constant divergence angle. This is in agreement with our suggested photon model even though our model does not refer to a particle but directly to a wave-packet which is considered to be the photon itself.
2.10. More recent Experiments on Photon Nature
Recent considerations supporting the “particle” nature of photons are based on experiments with light-detectors (photomultipliers) giving an electric pulse whenever monochromatic light shines on them, and when the light gets dimmer the pulses become fewer but remain just as strong (Feynman 1985). But these results do not necessarily constitute a proof for a particle nature either, because: 1. Light sources used in laboratories usually are directional, sending light in a specific direction just like a directional antenna or waveguide confines its electromagnetic wave emission within a narrow beam. In such a case, similar quantities of energy from the directional source reach the detector which is usually directional as well. The result is then pulses of equal intensity. Indeed, electromagnetic waves are not elastic/mechanical waves which spread their energy in every direction within a material medium because of the elastic forces between adjacent molecules in all material media. In contrast, electromagnetic waves may be emitted in all directions from a point source or a wire antenna, but they can also be confined within narrow beams in certain directions without significant spreading in other directions (e.g. lasers, hard x-rays, gamma rays, polarized signals from directional antennas). 2. Photodetectors respond by giving electric pulses of equal strength for every incident photon with energy hν between a lower and an upper limit:
ΔEmin = hνmin ≤ hν ≤ hνmax = ΔEmax (37)
The min and max values correspond to light-induced electronic transitions from the valence band of the photomultiplier’s semiconductor p-n junction to any level between the lower and upper limits of the conduction band (Roychoudhuri and Tirfessa 2008). Thus, equal pulses of photoelectron emission do not necessarily correspond to photons of equal energy/frequency, even if we accept that photons are indivisible packets of energy or “particles”. This is further supported by the fact that linearity of photomultipliers’ response at very low light intensities (below 104 photons per sec, corresponding theoretically to single photon detection) was not carefully investigated before the early eighties, and when investigated it was found that the response is not linear (Panarella 1987; 2008). This very simply means again, that in “single-photon” detection, higher photon energy does not necessarily produce a more intense pulse. Other investigators have also questioned the one-to-one correspondence for photoelectron emission (Lamb and Scully 1969; Lamb 1995). Actually what can really be considered as experimental proof for the particle behavior of photons - except for the Compton effect which finally as we showed does not constitute such a proof - is relatively very recent and comes from the work of Grangier et al (1986). This study employed “single photons” emitted by a non-classical source (radiative cascade originating from excited calcium atoms), and either reflected by or transmitted through a beam-splitter. Then the reflected and the transmitted photons were detected by two separate photomultipliers (one for the reflected and one for the transmitted parts of the initial beam)11. The first experiment of the study showed a particle-like behavior. More specifically, it showed that single photons do behave like particles since their detection after the beam splitter by the two photo-detectors presents anticoincidence. The second experiment of the same study involved interference test and showed that the reflected and the transmitted beams produce interference with each other, which is a wave-like behavior (Grangier et al 1986). This result contradicts the observed anticoincidence since it implies that single photons may split in two parts by the beam-splitter which then produce an interference pattern with each other. It may simply mean that photons are actually divisible wave-packets, and that electromagnetic energy can exist in quotients of a photon, and that would support our hypothesis that a photon may be partially absorbed. The authors’ interpretation of the above results was based on the assumption that the beam-splitter (a half-silvered mirror) splits equally the beam in a 50:50 manner which is a simplification (if not an oversimplification) especially for the short durations and low intensities applied in the experiments in order to have “single-photon” beams. This in combination with the limited efficiency and noise level of the detectors and the non-linearity of photomultipliers’ response at the low intensities of “single photons” which were not taken into account (but they are of extreme importance) could favor the anticoincidence result. Finally, if the experiments involved a classical light source, such as e.g. a laser, perhaps the results would be different (Panarella 1987; 2008; Jagielski 2009). Indeed, if the “half”-silvered mirror (“beam-splitter”) does not split accurately each incident wave-packet into two equal parts (which is the most likely, especially for such low intensities corresponding to “single photons”), this in combination with the limited photodetectors’ efficiencies (which may also differ between each other) will most likely result in anticoincidence. A probable scenario considering the photon as a wave-packet, is that the beam-splitter splits each photon into a bigger and a smaller part, or simply does not split it at all but simply some photons are reflected and some are transmitted resulting - of course - in complete anticoincidence. In the case of splitting of the wave-packet, if the smaller part is below the photodetector’s threshold it will not be detected while the bigger part will be. Such an event would be counted as an “anticoincidence” result, while in reality it is not. Even when the splitter splits each photon into two (unequal) parts which are both detected, the two separate detectors must have identical temporal response and identical efficiency in order to show coincidence. Finally, any detection of stray photons by the photomultipliers will further enhance the “anticoincidence” result. The degree in which these parameters are controlled in “coincidence photon experiments” determines the results. A recent attempt to reproduce the results of the Grangier et al (1986) experiments with a “classical” light source (coherent He-Ne laser beam) did not verify the anticoincidence effect) (Jagielski 2009). Other experiments of the Grangier et al group with faint light (attenuated light pulses from light emitting diodes - LED) at the level of 0.01 photon per pulse did not indicate a particle-like behavior (Aspect and Grangier 1991). In other more recent experimental attempts to produce interference pattern on a screen by “single photon” emission the interference pattern was observed. Covering the one slit, the interference bands disappeared (Fox 2006; Grimes and Grimes 2005; Ficek and Swain 2005; Loudon 2003). When a detector (photomultiplier) was added in one or in both slits to detect the incident photons, the interference pattern on the screen disappeared again, in other words, “detecting the photon” at the slit removes the effect (Fox 2006; Ficek and Swain 2005; Loudon 2003). All these experimental facts support our hypothesis that any single photon is not transmitted in a single direction as a “particle” but transmitted as a (divisible) wave-packet in multiple directions within a solid angle, and thus different parts of the same photon go simultaneously at the two slits. In regard to “single photon emission” our opinion is that this cannot be determined simply by decreasing the intensity of light emitted by a source after or during the emission. All light sources emit large numbers of photons at any instant. Decreasing the rate of emission on a LED or a laser, or decreasing the intensity after the emission by filters at a level corresponding theoretically to single photons, does not prove that the source indeed emits single photons at any given instant, neither that the detectors actually receive discrete single photons. They certainly receive light of intensities corresponding to single photons (or even less). These detected intensities may be the sum of quotients from several photons, which is in agreement with a divisible (wave-packet) photon character. Supporting to this opinion are other experiments suggesting that the emission of a single photoelectron actually requires the simultaneous presence of several (at least four) photons (Panarella 1987; 2008) Thereby, even the more recent experimental results allegedly supporting the corpuscular photon model are not totally persuading.
2.11. Interference Patterns by Interferometers can be Explained Postulating a Photon Wave-Packet Character
Except for the Young’s original double-slit interference experiments, subsequent important data on light interference were acquired by the Michelson, and the Mach-Zehnder interferometers. In Michelson interferometer a source emits monochromatic light confined within a narrow beam towards a beam-splitter (a half-silvered mirror) which splits the beam into two beams of approximately equal intensities. The one part of the initial beam is reflected towards a movable mirror M1 while the other part is transmitted through the beam-splitter towards a mirror M2 at a fixed position. Then the two beams recombine on a screen producing an interference pattern depending on the position of the movable mirror and the consequent path-length difference between reflected and transmitted beams. By altering slowly the position of M1, we get on the screen a periodical alteration of bright and dark fringes. A full periodical alteration corresponds to a path-length difference equal to the beam’s wavelength λ. Then the displacement of M1 equals λ/2 (Michelson 1882). In this way Michelson was able to measure wavelengths of different monochromatic sources. Michelson’s results were successfully reproduced with “single photon” sources (supposedly emitting only one photon at any given instant) (Selleri 1983). While no explanation for the Michelson interferometer can be offered when considering a corpuscular photon nature (Jagielski 2009), considering each photon as a (divisible) bundle of coherent waves the interference pattern is easily explained: Each photon emitted by the source splits into two coherent parts. The two coherent parts recombine on the screen and, depending on the difference in the distances run by each one, produce an interference pattern. This occurs with every single photon emitted by the source. Similarly, in the Mach-Zhender interferometer involving two beam-splitters, the acquired interference pattern depends again on the difference in the distances run by each part of the initial beam (Zetie et al 2000; Jagielski 2009). The two individual parts are of the same polarization, frequency and phase, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to produce an interference pattern on the screen, according to the well-established experimental laws for light interference (Arago and Fresnel 1819). This means to us that the two parts obviously come from the splitting of each incident wave-packet (photon) into two parts of identical polarization, frequency, and phase. Then the coherence is additionally modulated by the difference in the distances. Thus the Mach-Zehnder interference pattern can again be explained postulating a divisible wave-packet photon nature such as e.g. our suggested SCWP model. There is an additional effect observed with the Michelson interferometer (as well as with other types of interferometers): When the difference between the two optical paths increases more than ~ 15 cm the interference pattern gradually attenuates and the fringes become vague. When the path difference reaches ~ 30 cm the pattern disappears (Alexopoulos 1966). This effect cannot be explained by the corpuscular photon model. This length is described in quantum physics as “coherence length” (Jagielski 2009). It seems to us that this length may actually be the photon length (in our suggested model the length of the bundle of adjacent waves), and this phenomenon implies clearly a wave-packet photon character. Indeed, the electron transition times are on the order of 10-9 s (Klimov 1975; Gautreau and Savin 1978). This multiplied by the velocity of light in the air (~ 3×108 m/s) gives that the emitted wave (photon) during an atomic transition has exactly the length estimated by the interferometer (~ 30 cm). Therefore, the existence of “coherence length” is an additional evidence for the validity of our suggested SCWP photon model, and may simply represent the length of the photon itself. An explanation for the disappearance of the interference pattern according to our suggested model is that each photon emitted by the source has a distinct phase, frequency, polarization, and a certain length as well. When the difference in optical paths is significantly less than the photon bundle/wave-packet length, the interference pattern is a result of superposition between two parts of the same photon (two parts of the same divisible bundle of adjacent waves) which are coherent and of identical frequency and polarization with a total length ~ 30 cm. When the path-length difference increases more than ~ 15 cm the pattern gradually becomes vague because of partial superposition between each photon and its subsequent ones which are not of the same phase and polarization (neither of the same frequency in the case of polychromatic light) with the previous photon. As the difference increases more than ~ 15 cm the partial superposition with incoherent photons predominates and for ~ 30 cm we have total superposition between different photons on the screen each moment, and thus no interference at all. The interference patterns acquired from stars by the Michelson stellar interferometer or the Hanbury Brown-Twiss stellar intensity interferometer used to measure the diameters of stars, is actually additional evidence against the corpuscular photon model, and supportive to our suggested model. The operation principle in these interferometers is as follows: The light from a star is collected by two mirrors (or photodetectors in the Hanbury Brown-Twiss interferometer) M1, M2 separated by a distance d. The light received from the star by each mirror (detector) is directed through separate slits (photo-currents) into the telescope. If the light collected by the two mirrors is coherent, an interference pattern will be formed in the focal plane of the telescope. If the light collected by the two mirrors is incoherent, no interference pattern will be formed. The distance between the mirrors d was about 6 m in Michelson stellar interferometer in 1920, and increased up to 188 m in Hanbury Brown-Twiss stellar intensity interferometer in 1956. In spite of such large distances an interference pattern could be formed. In Hanbury Brown-Twiss interferometer the light collected by two detectors generates two photocurrents which then are correlated with each other by an electronic multiplier (Fox 2006). If photons emitted by the stars were indivisible “particles” transmitted in a single direction, then the two mirrors would collect different photons each moment which would be incoherent and no interference pattern would have been observed. This is independent of the instrument’s angular resolution due to diffraction, according to which it has to be d 1.22×λ in order for the instrument to be able to allow interference effects become observable (d is the distance between mirrors/detectors, λ the wavelength of collected light from the star, D is the diameter of the star, L the distance of the star from Earth) (Fox 2006). Lorentz had also considered Michelson’s stellar interferometer results as a refutation of Einstein’s (indivisible) “particle” photon model since according to Einstein’s hypothesis, “a quantum would have to be 20 feet long in order to reach from one of the outer mirrors to the other, yet at the same time small enough to be captured by a single electron” (in Lorenz’s own words) (Lorentz 1924; Brush 2007). Considering photons as wave-packets the observed interference pattern is easily explained: Each photon emitted by the star is a (divisible) bundle of adjacent radial waves propagating within an angle from its source and thus reaches the two mirrors (detectors) simultaneously with the same phase and polarization. When the distance between the mirrors/collectors exceeds the angular spread (divergence angle) of the wave-packet, the interference pattern disappears.
3. A Suggested New Photon Model
The present study: a) Accepts that light is emitted in a quantised manner - a fact that all experiments point out - but not necessarily absorbed or transmitted in a quantized manner. b) Suggests a wave-packet character for the photon instead of a “particle” nature. c) Introduces a new wave-packet model for the photon: A bundle of adjacent radial, independently moving waves of a certain frequency, duration, length, phase, and polarization, which is spread discontinuously in multiple directions by increasing the distances between independent adjacent radial waves. Such a wave-packet is spread within a solid angle determined by the specific conditions of its atomic/molecular source during the transition-emission. The divergence solid angle remains constant when the photon propagates in the vacuum. This wave-packet is transmitted as a part of spherical surface with radius increasing with the velocity of light, and may be absorbed either partially or even as a whole depending on the degree of its spatial confinement. The total energy of the wave-packet is hν. The individual independent adjacent pulses (of unspecified large number) constituting a single photon may be straight sinusoidal pulses of constant amplitude, or Gaussian-shaped pulses. This does not affect the suggested photon model. An additional property of this wave-packet may be that due to electrodynamic forces it may posses some tendency to remain as a whole during emission-transmission-absorption. Such issues should be investigated in case that our suggested model is indeed relevant. The divergence solid angle within which a specific photon is confined is determined during its emission by the screening on the electron which undergoes transition by the ‘clouds’ of the rest electrons of the atom/molecule. In such a case it is reasonably expected that photons emitted by inner electrons (x-ray photons) or nuclei (gamma photons) will be much more screened by the ‘clouds’ of the rest electrons and thus they will be more confined (condensed) spatially, resembling “particles”12. In contrast, visible or ultraviolet photons emitted by outer electrons and infrared photons emitted by oscillating molecules will be less screened by electron clouds during their emission and thus they will be less confined spatially. In this case, the wave-packet will be extended over a wider angle/volume on a larger part of a spherical surface. In any case, even when the solid angle is a very small one, the photon expands as it propagates and consequently it reduces its energy density by increasing the distance between adjacent radial pulses. But it is kept within a space-finite pattern whose divergence angle remains constant when transmitted in the vacuum. The expansion of the photon wave-packet is in agreement with quantum mechanics (Eq. 36). In many experimental setups (such as in Michelson interferometer, Mach-Zehnder interferometer, Grangier et al anticoincidence experiments, photon counters, etc) it is well-known that the light can be spatially confined (Jagielski 2009). It does not permeate the whole space as e.g. elastic waves, but it constitutes a narrow beam propagating each moment in a (roughly) single direction through the experimental setup. This occurs when light is made a beam by passing through collimators, or in lasers. Thus, when light is made to propagate as a narrow beam it keeps its spatial confinement at a certain degree. Certainly, after long distances, even the most perfectly collimated light beams will be significantly spread, especially within a material medium (e.g. in the air) where there is additional spreading due to diffraction and scattering, but for the distances within a laboratory a well-collimated light beam keeps its spatial confinement satisfactorily in contrast to any elastic wave. Moreover, if light were transmitted as spherical waves according to Huygens principle, it would not be possible for a point laser to reach the moon, even with a spread of tens of km2. Our argument that light keeps its spatial confinement is further supported by the fact that light beams from different sources do not interfere with each other, but they cross through each other without redistributing their energies (i.e. without perturbing each other or changing their directions) (Roychoudhuri 2008; 2014). As we explained in the present study, in order for different photons to interfere with each other they need to be of the same polarization, frequency, and coherence which is not the case in (unpolarised-incoherent) natural light beams. The above facts explain the name of our suggested photon model. The suggested name for the new photon model is, Spatially Confined Wave Packet (SCWP). If our suggested SCWP photon model is correct, then the observed “coherence length” (~ 30 cm) in Michelson interferometer with visible light may actually represent the photon length, (or similarly the length of the wave-packet). If this is correct, then each individual adjacent pulse/wave within the wave-packet/bundle of a single photon is on the order of 105-106 wavelengths long (for wavelengths in the visible range, λ 3.8-7.6×10-7 m).
4. Other Suggested Wave-Packet Photon Models
It seems that not everybody in the quantum physics community accepts the established corpuscular photon model. A wave-packet photon model is offered by Hunter and colleagues (Hunter and Wadlinger 1989; Hunter et al 2008). According to this suggested model which originates as a monochromatic solution of Maxwell’s equations, the photons are monochromatic wave-packets traveling rectilinearly at the speed of light, having the shape of a circular ellipsoid in the case of “circularly polarized states” with its long axis parallel to its propagation and equal to its wavelength λ, and its diameter (small axis) equal to λ/π. This ellipsoid wave-packet called “soliton” carries energy hν, and is surrounded/accompanied by an “evanescent” wave of zero energy which according to the authors is responsible for the production of the interference phenomena. According to this model, while the “soliton” is spatially confined within the ellipsoid and thus it passes through the one slit in a particle-like manner, its “evanescent” wave extends over and interacts with both slits. In spite of the offered explanation, our opinion is that this model is too complicated to be real. Moreover, how a single photon can ever be circularly polarized? Circular polarization is the result of superposition of two fields/waves (photons in this case) of identical energy and linear polarization with a phase difference 90 between them, or the result of superposition of three fields/waves of identical energy and linear polarization, with a phase difference 120 between each two of them (Alonso and Finn 1967). Moreover, the linearly polarized superposed fields must be in specific geometrical arrangement preserved during transmission. Another wave-packet photon model which is simpler and perhaps more relevant than the “soliton” model was recently proposed (Roychoudhuri and Tirfessa 2008). According to this model, the photon is also a time-finite and space-finite wave-packet of energy hν, which constantly expands during its transmission but kept also within an angle that remains constant and has “the physical shape of a Gaussian spatial wave-front and semi-exponential temporal envelope”. The authors combine their suggestion with recent direct measurement of kinetic energy of electrons detached from neon atoms in the presence of an intense laser field. The measured energy was in the form of Gaussian-shaped sinusoidal pulses allegedly corresponding to single photons, and each one containing approximately five periodical oscillations (Goulielmakis et al 2008). In our opinion it is not clear whether the detected undulations are indeed related with single photons. One objection to both of the above wave-packet photon models is that, if the photon consists of a single wave/undulation, how can the amplitude of this undulation increase infinitely as the wave-packet expands, while its energy hν remains constant? Our suggested SCWP photon model offers a solution in this problem by considering not a single wave/pulse but a bundle of adjacent identical waves. The bundle/photon expands by increasing the distances between adjacent waves. One similarity between our SCWP model and the Gaussian-shaped pulse model (Roychoudhuri and Tirfessa 2008) is that both consider propagation within a divergence angle that remains constant. Further, the interference patterns acquired by the Michelson and Mach-Zehnder interferometers cannot be explained by the established corpuscular light model, but neither by the “soliton” model (Hunter and Wadlinger 1989; Hunter et al 2008) or the Gaussian-shaped pulse model (Roychoudhuri and Tirfessa 2008). In this case we do not simply have an interaction between the photon and two slits which may be possible for an “evanescent” wave or a single sinusoidal Gaussian-shaped pulse, but we have two very different paths (which may be separated by great distances) to be followed by the two parts of light before rejoining again on the screen. It is unlikely for an “evanescent” wave with zero energy to split from its “soliton”, or a single Gaussian pulse to split in two parts which will travel these two different/separated paths simultaneously without dissociating from each-other. This is also admitted by Hunter et al (2008). Finally, the observed “coherence length” in Michelson interferometer cannot be explained with the “soliton” model, since this model suggests that the photon (“soliton”) length is equal to its wavelength (which e.g. for visible light is λ 3.8-7.6×10-5 cm), and thus about 105-106 times smaller than the observed “coherence length”. Similarly cannot be explained with the Gaussian-shaped pulse model which suggests a length five times as the wavelength.
Discussion and Conclusion
“Near the end of his life Albert Einstein (1879-1955) wrote, «All the fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no closer to the answer to the question: What are light quanta? Of course today every rascal thinks he knows the answer, but he is deluding himself». We are today in the same state of ‘learned ignorance’ with respect to light as was Einstein” (Zajonc 2003). This admitted ignorance in regard to the nature of photons arises primarily from the inability of modern science to give a convincing quantum mechanical interpretation of the light interference facts and reconcile the conflict between wave and particle behaviour of light. What is considered as explanation for the double-slit experiments by modern quantum physics is that, the light interference pattern is the result of superposition of probabilities between different photon states, and by covering the one slit or by placing a detector at that slit, the wave-function describing the probability that the photon will go to that slit, is “destroyed” (Grimes and Grimes 2005; Ficek and Swain 2005). As explained in the Introduction, this makes no sense to us. The wave function (or the probability) just like any mathematical concept does not have any physical existence by itself, it is only a concept introduced by scientists to describe the physical reality. It does not constitute a physical reality by itself… There is certainly a physical reality behind the fact that the interference pattern disappears when the one slit is closed. That physical reality interacts simultaneously and necessarily with both slits in order to produce interference effects. Such a physical reality cannot be a “particle” existing simultaneously at both slits, but may well be a bundle of identical waves transmitted from the source and spread within an angle that includes the two slits. A suggested experiment to test this hypothesis is to carefully determine by use of collimators, apertures, and detectors the divergence angle within which photons are transmitted/confined, and then increase the distance between the two slits. If our hypothesis is correct, then the visibility of the interference pattern on a screen behind the slits will decrease with increasing slit separation, and disappear when the distance between the slits is increased above a certain value determined by the angle of transmission/confinement just as it occurs with the stellar interferometers. In other words, the interference pattern will disappear when the one or both slits are outside the photons’ divergence angle. This experiment seems not to have been conducted so far, and should be the subject of a next study. Stated differently, the current quantum mechanical explanation of light interference having adopted the corpuscular photon character, asserts that the photon - a massless “particle” of zero electric charge - detects the presence of both slits, and for some unknown reason it requires the presence of both in order to produce interference although it only passes through the one. Our opinion is that this explanation offered by modern quantum physics (Ficek and Swain 2005) is unnecessarily complicated and unphysical. By accepting that each photon is emitted in multiple directions within an angle from its source, the “paradox” is resolved. In such a case, a simple explanation for the fact that the interference effects disappear when a detector is placed at the one slit, is that the part of the photon going to that slit is absorbed (or scattered) by the detector and the remaining photon part at the other slit is not enough to produce interference alone. Any standard detector device would detect the energy quanta by “destroying” them (actually absorb them, or scatter them in a different direction). Any detector placed on a path to detect a photon along that path, will obscure the path (Loudon 2003). With the suggested photon model the paradox is resolved without the need of any complicated speculations/interpretations such as the “Copenhagen” or the “many worlds”. In order to get interference fringes from two slits the photon must actually interfere with itself. That simply means to us that different parts of the same (divisible) bundle of adjacent radial waves (photon) go through the two slits simultaneously. The “paradox” arises because of the current postulation introduced by Einstein (1905a) that the photon is transmitted in a single direction because of its “particle” nature. Once this postulation is revised in accordance with our suggested model, the “paradox” is over. The suggested photon model as a SCWP perfectly explains the Young experiment: Each photon (bundle of identical waves) emitted any moment from the primary light source reaches simultaneously (and thus with the same phase and polarization) the two identical slits which have to be within the photon’s divergence angle at equal distances from the source. Each slit diffracts a part of the original bundle in multiple directions with the same phase and polarization (that of the original bundle), and thus we get interference effects on a screen placed behind the two slits. The same explanation holds for the Michelson and Mach-Zehnder interferometer patterns, as well as for the Michelson or the Hanbury Brown - Twiss stellar interferometer patterns regarding the spatial coherence of star light within angles determined by the interferometer. The suggested SCWP photon model does not contradict any of the original hypotheses or conclusions of Planck or Einstein regarding the existence of light quanta, except for Einstein’s postulation that these quanta are indivisible “particles”. On the contrary, it perfectly agrees with Condition 5 written by Einstein - but widely ignored/underestimated - as a more general formula than Eq. 4 for the explanation of the photoelectric effect. If the photon is indeed a SCWP - as the present study suggests - then very reasonably one electron at a specific location a certain moment will only partially absorb an incident photon. This explains Compton’s experiments and reproduces Eq. 11 as shown in the present study, without the postulation of the corpuscular photon model. This also explains the wide range of recoiled electron energies recorded by Wilson, the vast majority of which were well below those corresponding to the absorption of a whole x-ray photon by a single electron (Wilson 1923; 1927) Thus, we showed that in the original studies of Planck and Einstein (Planck 1901; Einstein 1905a) there is no requirement that force us to accept that each photon is only transmitted in a single direction, or absorbed only as a whole. That was merely an Einstein’s postulation (Einstein 1905a). Moreover, we showed that Compton’s considered experimental “proof” for the “particle” nature of photons bears additional explanations in agreement with our suggested photon model. Millikan whose experiments supported Einstein’s interpretation of the photoelectric effect (on the condition that Eq. 4 refers to the maximum velocity for the photoelectron) was opponent to Einstein’s corpuscular photon model (LQH). In Millikan’s own words, “This hypothesis may well be called reckless first because an electromagnetic disturbance which remains localized in space seems a violation of the very conception of an electromagnetic disturbance, and second because it flies in the face of the thoroughly established facts of interference. . .” (Millikan 1916). Thus, Millikan’s objections to Einstein’s corpuscular photon model were also primarily based on the facts of light interference. In our view, an electromagnetic disturbance does not remain localized in space but it can remain confined within a solid angle. On this we agree with the spreading of the quantum mechanical wave-packets (described by Eq. 36). We do not expect photons to behave like mechanical elastic waves within a material medium transmitting the initial oscillation to the adjacent molecules in the medium in all directions. In other words, we do not consider photons to be spread in all directions. But we do expect them to spread within a solid angle determined by a) the atomic/molecular source (i.e. on what degree there is screening by electron clouds surrounding the source), b) additional screening and diffraction by the emitting device and the experimental setup, e.g. collimators, c) additional spreading of the wave-packet when transmitted in a material medium due to diffraction and scattering. We know that the lasers emitted within a small divergence angle, keep their direction and the emitted bundles of photons do not spread significantly, but they do spread at a small degree as the distance from their source increases. Similarly microwaves emitted by directional antennas do not spread significantly and the main intensity is kept within a certain angle determined by the shielding of the antenna. Finally, as we explained, (unpolarised) light beams from different sources keep their spatial confinement and do not interfere with each other. This is the reason why light beams from different stars cross each other but reach us unperturbed (Roychoudhuri 2008). This reasoning is in agreement with the suggested term “spatially confined wave packet” (SCWP). In order to interfere with each other, photons from different light beams must be of identical polarization frequency and phase according to the Arago-Fresnel experimental laws as explained. This is not the case for (natural) light except when the different beams come from identical secondary sources as in the Young experiment. Nevertheless, it is suggested that regardless of polarization and coherence, light beams do not interfere with each other anyway, but it is the vibrations caused in the electric charges/dipoles of atoms/molecules of a material (e.g. a screen or detector in general) that give rise to superposition effects between the different light beams (Roychoudhuri 2008; 2014). Thereby, a question that arises is, does the detector material “creates” the superposition effect out of the superposed light beams, or it simply makes visible an effect that is created by the superposed wave amplitudes anyway but it is otherwise not detectable? In our opinion, the second option is more plausible. Our suggested SCWP photon model bears some similarity with the “soliton”/”evanescent” wave model (Hunter et al 2008), and even more with the Gaussian-shaped pulse model (Roychoudhuri and Tirfessa 2008), but we consider our model more plausible than both because: 1) It is significantly simpler. 2) It can explain the interferometer patterns, and the “coherence length” while the other models as they stand, cannot. 3) Both the other two models are based on the assumption that a photon is a single pulse, and a single pulse cannot expand over larger volumes without increasing its energy. Our model explains the expansion by considering each photon as a divisible bundle of a large (yet unspecified) number of identical, radial, independently moving waves (with either constant amplitude or Gaussian shape) which increase the distances between them as the bundle (photon) propagates. The suggested SCWP photon model actually (although not literally) is in agreement with Dirac’s remark: “Each photon interferes only with itself. Interference between different photons never occurs” (Dirac 1958). According to the presented facts and reasoning in this chapter, a photon can also interfere (produce standing interference effects) with other photons on the condition that they are of the same frequency, polarization, and phase. Certainly, this condition is impossible to be satisfied for light rays emitted by different sources. Even when the different light sources are of identical frequency and polarization, superposed photons each moment must be additionally of identical phase in order to be able to produce clear and standing interference effects. That explains Dirac’s remark. The established wave-particle duality for the light quanta, as well as the up-to-today offered interpretations for the quantum mechanical paradoxes such as the “Copenhagen” or the “many worlds”, are complicated, and - in our opinion - they lack a persuading physical content, while our suggested photon model offers a simple and physical explanation of interference, which according to Feynman “contains the only mystery”, meaning that all other quantum mechanical paradoxes arise from this one (Feynman et al 1965). Physics is the science of the physical, not the unphysical or the super-physical. Any phenomenon in nature does not occur through a complicated (and thus more energy consuming) way, when it can take place through a simpler way. For this reason, it is our understanding that a simple explanation in physics is always more probable than a complicated one. The postulation introduced by the present study, that each individual photon is a bundle of identical adjacent independent radialy moving waves confined within a solid angle but transmitted in multiple directions within that angle, is much simpler than considering the photon a “particle”, or even more a “wave-particle duality”. This does not contradict the fact that elementary particles e.g. electrons exhibit wave behaviour. Our opinion is that quantum mechanics account for elementary particles with a measurable rest mass (e.g. electrons), but not for hypothetical “massless particles” such as photons. In conclusion, the present study suggests that our understanding on the nature of photons should perhaps be revised to account more realistically for the light interference facts. The new hypothesis on the photon nature as SCWP, is - in our opinion - simple and reasonable, and can possibly reconcile the complicated and unphysical concept of “wave-particle” duality into a realistic unity. We do not question the quantization of atomic energies as introduced by Bohr (1913; 1928), neither the quantization of light emission as introduced by Planck (1901). We consider that these are absolutely reasonable, have physical meaning, and stand on firm bases verified by numerous facts. We do question the established postulation that the transmission and absorption of light is quantized as well. That was introduced by Einstein (1905a) and has led to paradoxes such as the current unphysical quantum mechanical “explanation” of light interference, or the “wave-particle duality”. Thus we fully agree with the statement that “the quantization of atoms has revolutionized our understanding of the material world by providing us with a staggering amount of new knowledge about the material world. In contrast, the quantization of the electromagnetic field has actually suppressed the exploration of the real physical process taking place during the detection process of superposed light beams and gave birth to non-causal and non-local interpretations of superposition phenomena” (Roychoudhuri and Tirfessa 2008). We must always keep in mind that experimental outcomes may bear additional explanations especially when they involve complicated setups of significant inaccuracy such as photomultipliers, beam-splitters etc, and scientific postulations should not be taken for granted especially when there are phenomena that still resist a physical explanation in accordance with these postulations (such as interference). The mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics may be indeed very successful in providing mathematical description of quantum mechanical phenomena (including interference) but it does not provide a physical explanation of the microscopic processes undergoing these phenomena. Thus the formalism lacks physical content. A pioneering part of the quantum physics community has come to realize this. In their own words: “If nobody understands quantum mechanics in spite of its very useful formalism, an attempt should be made to revisit both the interpretation and the formalism. We must discover the real origin of our failures to understand quantum mechanics and imagine and visualize the physical processes behind these light-matter interaction processes” (Roychoudhuri et al 2008). “Physics goes forward on the shoulders of doubters, not believers”, declared quantum physicist Ed Jaynes in 1966, questioning the need for a quantum theory of radiation (Jaynes 1978). Thus, in spite of the seeming confidence of modern quantum physics, the light interference facts still remain a “mystery”… Although the present study does not question at all hν but only its postulated “particle” nature (and this is in complete agreement with Planck’s opinions), a poem written in the early 1920s by physicist-poet Dr George Shearer (1890-1949) still keeps its power (Shearer 1929; Brush 2007):
All black body radiation All the spectrum variations All atomic oscillations Vary as “hν”
. . .
There would be a mighty clearance, We should all be Planck’s adherents, Were it not that interference
Still defies “hν”
I take the freedom to revise slightly the poem in order to adjust it with the ideas of this chapter, hoping that Dr Shearer would have no objection:
All black body radiation(s) All the spectrum variations All atomic oscillations Vary as “particle light”
. . .
There would be a mighty clearance, We should be Albert’s adherents, Were it not that interference Still defies “particle light”
Again, these are the thoughts of a radiation biophysicist, not a quantum physicist. Maybe most quantum physicists will find these thoughts “strange” or even wrong. But sometimes someone coming from “outside” may have a more clear view than someone who is deep “inside” a difficult physical (and philosophical) problem among countless details. I would be happy if I offered a relevant alternative view on an unsolved paradox in addition to that of most experts in the particular field. Or if I simply offered some pleasant time to the reader of the present essay even in case that the points raised are indeed irrelevant.
“Dr Panagopoulos’ study is definitely significant, even though there are only a couple of spots where I do not completely agree with him. His analysis related to Einstein’s photoelectric equation, Compton Effect and the brief representation of Schroedinger’s equation and the related comments are excellent for the next generation researchers. His general approach is quite objective and shows his deeper thinking is anchored in exploring the real physical interaction processes taking place in nature; in contrast to simply rushing to validate the measurable data by simple-minded mathematical equations. Our thinking diverges on the details of the physical propagation mechanism of the “Spatially Confined Wave-Packets” after they have been emitted by atoms and molecules. QM is correct that any spontaneous emission starts with a discrete amount of energy ΔE = hν. My current understanding converges with that of Dr. Panagopoulos that this energy packet evolves as a wave packet with a classical time-finite amplitude envelope containing a carrier frequency ν. We differ after this point. I think this wave packet propagates diffractively following Huygens-Fresnel’s diffraction integral since the integral is mathematically a solution of the Maxwell’s wave equation and it is continuing to be the bedrock behind the progress of optical science and engineering from the beginning of its mathematical formulation by Fresnel. In his original book, Huygens clearly stated that his postulated secondary wavelets do not interfere (interact) with each other; which I have generalized in my recent book, “Causal Physics”. The book details how all optical phenomena are strictly causal when we simply eliminate many unnecessary self-contradictory and non-causal postulates that are still prevalent in modern books. Divergences and diversities in our thinking are healthy. Science is always a work in progress. We never have a final theory, unlike religions.”
Professor Dr. Chandrasekhar Roychoudhuri, (Photonics Laboratory, Physics Department, University of Connecticut, USA)
Many Thanks to Dr C. Roychoudhuri, and Dr G. Fanourakis for critical reading of the manuscript and valuable discussions.
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