1. ## zero dimensions

First of all, i apologize for bringing this up once again, but it keeps bothering me.

My view, feel free to correct it. In fact, i encourage you to correct it.

The fastest speed at which energy can be transferred from point A to point B is roughly 300 000 km/s. This explains why when you are travelling close to the speed of light, time seems to slow down. ALL of the the processes are going on slower, even your watch, so that is why time gets dilated as compared to a stationary object. This makes perfect sence to me. Then there is gravity. Enter Einstein , who said, well of course it must be the curvature of spacetime.

I cant say i fully agree, since i dont see the mechanism by which matter deforms space (lengths). But i guess i dont have a better explanation, so ill just have to live with that.

Now lets look at the basic unit of energy. A photon. What i dont understand, is how something can have no dimensions. If somehting has zero dmensions, it in a sence, is not there. It does not exist, ZERO dimensions ( if i keep subdividing, there will be nothing). Then why is it that we assigned zero dimensions to a photon? Here is more from what i mean. Lets take a chunk of a vacuum. A "pure" vacuum, with no electromagnetic radiation in it, oranything else. This vacuum will have 3 space dimensions right? Now lets accelerate this vacuum to the speed of light, and make that our frame of reference. NOW, lets introduce a photon to this vacuum, which will be roughly in the center of this vacuum. So my question is...where is this photon? it sure as heck isnt int the center!

Assuming that the vacuum is not an ether, how can a vacuum with a photon in it be distinguished froma vacuum without a photon in it? This goes for all things zero dimensional.

I'll write more as the replies come in.

Thanks

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Afterburner,

First, the time dilation is relative to the "stationary" observer. He sees you going at some high v/c and sees your clock slowing down. However, as far as you're concerned your clock is ticking normally and it is his clock that has slowed, because from your point of view, you are stationary and he is the one moving at high speed. There was a poster named MacM who had big problems with this in a thread in the ATM section. However, time dilation in a gravitational potential well is different. You and an observer deep in the well can agree on whose clock is ticking slower.

Second, mathematically a "point" is zero dimensional, with no extent. However, finite quantities can be associated with that point -- these are "singularities" so to speak -- see Dirac's delta function, a function that is zero everywhere save a single point, where it is "infinite" in such a way that the integral (area under the function) is some finite, non-zero value. A black hole is an example of a mass singularity. In multiple dimensions, delta functions get more complex than the 1D case, of course. In quantum theory, in the realm of the very small, we have "point particles", where properties like charge, mass, angular momentum (spin) etc seem to be associated with a point (but the mass here doesn't become a black hole -- don't ask me the difference).

In Quantum mechanics, however this business of point gets "blurred" and spread and out. "Particles" have both wave and point-like properties. A particle can be described by something called a wave-function, which is essentially the probability of finding a particle at a particular point. That wave is "spread out", but when you "find it" (by making some measurement) it presents itself as being at point. Well, if the measurement you're making has anything to do with a position. So "particles" are really "spread out" over space, but when they interact with something, they appear to do so at a point.

Finally a photon is not really a "unit of energy". It is a chunk of energy with various properties. Actually it is the quantization of the EM field, and represents the discrete chunks that EM energy (and momentum) can come in.

A photon has a wave function description (and this is NOT to be confused with the associated E and B waves it "carries" -- these are two very different waves). That wave function is all about the probabilities of EM interactions that would be described classically by the propagating E and B radiation fields. From that wave function we can get something we can describe roughly as the "expectation value" of the E and B fields.

So a photon's influence so to speak is "spread out". In fact, the lower the frequency and longer the wavelength of the associated EM radiation, the more spread out that photon is. But still, when it interacts (transfers its energy) it does so at a point. And Energy = h*frequency, so a long wavelength photon represents a very small chunk of EM energy compared to a high frequency photon.

Low frequency radiation of a given power density consists of many more photons than higher frequency radiation of the same power. So here, the discrete, point-like behavior it too small to notice since there are so many interactions occuring all over the place. However, for very high energy photons, like gamma rays, that discrete, point-like behavior is very apparent.

-Richard

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Is the energy of a photon contained within one wavelength?
Can you describe an experiment which demonstrates that the
energy is or is not all contained within one wavelength?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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Jeff,

It's all a matter of probability. A photon wave function (again, "Psi", not the E and B field waves associated) can be thought of as a little "wave packet", not a single wavelength. In Fourier terms (aperiodic, continuum of frequencies), you can model a little "wavepacket" as some distribution of frequncies. The sum of these is a little "packet" of waves, a few "humps" that peter out to nothing on the leading and trailing edges which moves along.

Note you can have several humps, or wavelengths within the packet. Anyway, most of the probability density is within the packet, but it remains non-zero, although vanishingly small outside. That is the where you can think of the energy as being contained.

Now we would apply some operators to that wavefunction (probably some complicated mess well beyond the simple stuff I learned about QM wavefunctions -- this is quantum field theory, really, the "second quantization" whatever that really means. ) and we would get the E and B fields associated with it. The result would be another wave packet of sorts, but it would not be the same wave packet as the Psi function. It might have more or less wavelet humps and troughs and extend more or less into the surrounding space). And those E and B "things" wouldn't be exactly the same as the classical E and B waves -- it is more the probability of E and B being there.

Far away from the little Psi wave packet of the photon, the probability of "it being there" is very small, but still non-zero, and that would mean there is some low probability of finding some E and B fields around there as well.

When a photon "interacts", say is absorbed by an electron, or even splits into an electron-positron pair (which is possible for high-energy photons), that "chunk of" E-B field probability and the energy it contains is "taken away" and goes into something else, say pushing the electron into a higher orbital, or the mass and kinetic energy of the particle pair (but in the case of the particle pair, since they are charged, there would still be E and B fields around -- this goes well beyond classical EM behavior where "radiation field" can transform into "charge" field).

-Richard

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OK, if people tell me to go away, I will, but this thought just hit me. "What if" photons, which carry a number of measurable physical characteristics even though they most accurately are described as occupying the physical presence of a point, share some characteristics of whatever it was that pre-existed the universe?

I am not aware of any theories describing the nature of the physical existence of whatever it was that pre-existed the universe. I think it's said, the laws which govern physical interaction and existence do not apply within a black hole or whatever pre-existed the universe.

It seems neither do the theories describing the nature of "actual" physical existence apply to to a photon. It is something, it can interact with matter which occupies space, but it doesn't occupy any physical space. It doesn't exist in that way. Yet the verifiable fact is: it does exist, though in varying probabilities for specific locations; nonetheless, it can "appear" in any of those locations carrying a specific energy.

We definitely can meticulously describe what energy does, while not describing what energy is. Neither can we describe what the "object" was from which the universe emerged.

When I think of the "object" that expanded to create the universe, whether I think of it as a finite object or a singularity, I know we cannot describe its physical existence, as we cannot completely describe the physical existence of a photon or of what it is "made."

So, it seems to me we are missing something -- big. I wonder what it is.

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Pointlike particles, like photons, are being discussed in another thread.

7. Originally Posted by Flying Deuces
I am not aware of any theories describing the nature of the physical existence of whatever it was that pre-existed the universe.
And I'm not aware of any reason to believe that anything "pre-existed" the universe. You're not going to find too many widely supported physical theories on metaphysical concepts.

It seems neither do the theories describing the nature of "actual" physical existence apply to to a photon. It is something, it can interact with matter which occupies space, but it doesn't occupy any physical space. It doesn't exist in that way. Yet the verifiable fact is: it does exist, though in varying probabilities for specific locations; nonetheless, it can "appear" in any of those locations carrying a specific energy.
You, like afterburner before you in this thread, are applying "common sense" thinking to a topic that commonly and casually defies "common sense".

First and foremost, you seem to have either defined "matter" as being with either mass or volume. I'll assuem the former, since electrons and protons have as much volume as a photon. This has lead you to believe that photons are some sort of enigma, both existing and not existing. There's no paradox here, though: one option is just flat out wrong.

Photons have no charge, and no rest mass. They do, however carry momentum and energy. They're physical things. The lack of mass and charge cause them to act differently from the more "common sense" concept of matter: Solid objects with physical boundries. I'm sure most people still think of an atom as a bunch of tiny little physical balls swirlying around each other, as in the planetary model, but it's just not so. An atom gets it's volume from its electrostatic field. The only reason you or I or this desk in front of me is ridgid is due to electrostatic repulsion. Since photons don't have charges, light can't be solid. I see no reason why that means photons are any less real.

We definitely can meticulously describe what energy does, while not describing what energy is. Neither can we describe what the "object" was from which the universe emerged.
Energy is a concept. We can equally describe what "belief" does, but you won't see to many physical theories defining it.

When I think of the "object" that expanded to create the universe, whether I think of it as a finite object or a singularity, I know we cannot describe its physical existence
We can't really describe the physical existence of the universe, either. Existence being another one of those concept things.

as we cannot completely describe the physical existence of a photon or of what it is "made."
No more so than we can a neutron, or an atom, or you.

So, it seems to me we are missing something -- big. I wonder what it is.
Understanding would be my first guess. That's why we're all here, afterall, right?

8. Do not be put off,. To challenge, question, and apply a common sense approach will get you into some interesting debate but, that does not make you wrong.
To question the established concept is to redefine the rules of it. It is all for the better. This is how we learn. Good on you.

9. Indeed. I hope I didn't end up saying "you're wrong, go away", 'cause I didn't mean to. I dunna think I did, but them thar wurds do be tendin' to be gittin' in the way of such things a trifle too frequent like.

Question everything until you get an answer you think makes sense, and until you understand that answer, and then question it all over again. However, if I've learned one thing in five years of university, it's that science has shown us to avoid assumptions and presumptions until after you've gotten those answers. If I've learned two things, the other is that sometimes there are no good answers.

10. kristophe, i see what you mean by atoms are no more real than photons. And i understand the reasoning behind it. But dont you think that shomething should be generating the electrostatic fields that you are talking about? It does not make sence if these fields exist in such a formation, just becasue. If all atoms are just fields, then where are these fields coming from? why are they in such a formation? I would like to point out, that im not saying that the current theory is completely false (this is what some people think im doin on this thread, and others) I am simply trying to get a detailed explanation of what happens, and what things "look" like at these scales.

Here is what i mean. The following has no scientific back up, but im going to say it in order to illustrate my point, and the answer that im looking for when i ask these questions..

Atoms. We cant see them, but they must be real becasue we experience them every day. We cannot use photons to see them becasue the very action of firing photons at an atom might change what we are looking at, or it might interact witht an atom in a way that is undesirable (it might get absorbed).
So lets PRETEND, and pretend is key here, that we have particles that are so tiny, they are 1/1,000,000,000,000,000 the diameter of an atom. And we fire THOSE particles at an atom. In this MODEL we will be able to obsercve the atom, much like we observe objects in the macro world (just maybe withough color). But whats more important, is we will know the position of every carrier particle that the atom has, and we will know the "true" composition of the atom.

We say that the electron has a certain probability of being found in an electron cloud. Well, what is the electron doing when we didnt detect it? Witht the use of these tiny particles that i described above, we will be able to model the "path" of the electron. As well as the "path" of all of the carrier particles. The reult - a model of an atom. THIS is the kind of stuff im looking for. ie. what things MIGHT look like IF we had these particles, for the very purpose of undersanding how the world we live in looks, and works.

I understand that this might be a little far fetched, and that the answeres are not yet available, but if things like atoms are "real", then i think that one day we WILL have such models. (in 3D)

I am not proposing the use of such particles, since they dont exist. However, if carrier particles are real (in the way that i described above), there must be a reasonable mechanism, by which the transfer of energy occurs in the PHYSICAL world. ie. the PATH of these carrier particles. Unless, of course, they teleport somehow

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Originally Posted by Kristophe
Indeed. I hope I didn't end up saying "you're wrong, go away", 'cause I didn't mean to. I dunna think I did, but them thar wurds do be tendin' to be gittin' in the way of such things a trifle too frequent like.

Question everything until you get an answer you think makes sense, and until you understand that answer, and then question it all over again. However, if I've learned one thing in five years of university, it's that science has shown us to avoid assumptions and presumptions until after you've gotten those answers. If I've learned two things, the other is that sometimes there are no good answers.
You didn't say "you're wrong, go away," as much as you said to go home and study. lol

Science indeed cautions against making assumptions and presumptions. When applied to describing the actions/reactions observed within the universe, that advice applies. I'm not saying science has a perfected model, but rather a basketful of theories that seem to be able to predict behavior, the ability of devising technology to detect that behavior sometimes lagging behind the ability to predict.

However, as I never tire of pointing out, science is next to clueless to explain the essential nature of what it is that makes up the predictable and observable particles, fields, forces or quantum waves. i offer a few examples of this inability.

You say, "... I'm not aware of any reason to believe that anything 'pre-existed' the universe." Well, if nothing pre-existed the universe, how then would you describe how the universe originated? Either something pre-existed the universe, or nothing pre-existed the universe, and scientists saying nothing pre-existed the universe begin to share common ground with Creationists. Just a thought....

You said, "Photons have no charge, and no rest mass. They do, however carry momentum and energy. They're physical things." Agreed. Now easy here, but what are "physical things?" I won't accept, physical things are things that interact with other physical things, which is a pretty typical response.

Then you said, "Energy is a concept." You can guess my question probably: Can you describe in the materialist terminology of science what a concept is? And then I had to LOL at: "Existence being another one of those concept things." I'm guessing that concept things are things that interact with other concept things, and likely, they interact with physical things and vice versa.

It's the definition of "things" - a thing being something, whether energy, matter, space, fields, forces, and concept things which exist in the universe - that's lacking, and I think that's part of what afterburner is getting at and I know that's what I'm getting at.

I am not suggesting that each and every or any prediction/observation of science must pass the common-sense test. I'm saying: science cannot say what matter is. It cannot say what energy is. It can describe and predict interactions, but it cannot, at this point, describe essential nature.

So, Kristophe, I'd like to go home and study, but there's nothing to study. String theory, without describing what strings are and how to devise an experiment to verify that prediction, closes in on what matter and energy are, but string theory is criticized by some scientific thinkers as being more of a philosophy than science. Scientists tend to chastise metaphysics without realizing just how metaphysical they sometimes sound.

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Originally Posted by Flying Deuces
It's the definition of "things"... that's lacking...
Right. If you want to define something, you do it with words.
Then you have to define each of those words. Then you have to
define each of the words in those definitions. And then
you have to define each of the words in those definitions.
And then... it only comes to an end when you run out of new words
you can use to define previous words, and all your definitions
have become completely circular.

All definitions are ultimately circular if you try to define
things with words. That is a limitation of language, not a
limitation of science. I don't believe that understanding
nature is essentially the defining of things using words.
Words are very useful for describing things, but useless for
making ultimate definitions.

Originally Posted by Flying Deuces
science cannot say what matter is. It cannot say what energy is.
It can describe and predict interactions, but it cannot, at this
point, describe essential nature.
Science can describe matter and energy very well. Scientists
are able to understand what matter and energy are. They just
can't define them to your satisfaction, because you want them
defined with words, and word definitions are always circular.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

13. Originally Posted by Jeff Root
Right.
Science can describe matter and energy very well. Scientists
are able to understand what matter and energy are. They just
can't define them to your satisfaction, because you want them
defined with words, and word definitions are always circular.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis
Although this may be true, we associate words with pictures. So if you cant describe something in words, why not provide an accurate visual model of what you are trying to describe. The models of somehting like an atom, are nowhere near as accurate as what I, and perhaps Flying Deuces, want from science.

Like Kristophe said, "I'm sure most people still think of an atom as a bunch of tiny little physical balls swirlying around each other, as in the planetary model, but it's just not so. An atom gets it's volume from its electrostatic field."

Well if this isnt so, then where is an accurate model of what these things (atoms) are? Where is a model of an atoms electrostatic field, which desctibes how interactions occur? If you are able to provide one, people will fill their own words in.

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The trouble is, afterburner, that there are severe limitations with all such visual models, when it comes to quantum phenomena.

And it's not just those who've never studied quantum theory, even the basics, who have difficulty 'making pictures' - AFAIK, every single one of the QM pioneers, as well as such greats as Feynman and Einstein, had (at best) only a very limited intuitive feel for QM ... it's just so weird.

And yet it works! It's the most spectacularly successful theory we have in science, tested to a degree of accuracy quite unprecedented in the history of science!

Examples abound - not just zero dimensional electrons. Take the famous double slit experiment ... there are many descriptions of it, and many different 'runs', but the one I continue to find mind-blowing is the one in which there is no more than one photon in the apparatus at any time ... each such photon makes a 'spot' on the screen, and as the photons roll in, the 'spots' add up to an interference pattern ... as if, collectively, all the photons somehow 'knew' that there were two slits and that lots of other photons would be along to show the full interference pattern!

So what's the answer? How can you come to grips with this bizzare and weird world (of which you are made)?

15. afterburner,
I don't know where, or even if, you are looking (which I am beginning to doubt), but accurate models of atoms are out there and have been for decades. I'll be [darned] if I'll do your research for you.

16. First of all Kaptain K, I do not appeciate yout coments. If you dont have anything to say thats contributing to the thread, please dont say anything, especially not personal attacks/mockery.

Secondly, if you know of a model that is like what i described above (that traces the position of every carrier particle, not just the probablility of finding one in a particular volume of space, AND that shows how they interact with the different parts of the atom) i think you are WAY ahead of science. If you know of such a model in 3D, and one that is animanted, PLEASE SHARE WITH US ALL.

Becasue as far as i know, even tracing the electrons path is not possible.

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Originally Posted by Kaptain K
I don't know where, or even if, you are looking (which I am
beginning to doubt), but accurate models of atoms are out
there and have been for decades. I'll be [darned] if I'll do your
research for you.
The problem isn't so much that he isn't looking-- it is that he
has an unrealistic expectation of what he will find. The accurate
theory of atoms is quantum mechanics (which includes quantum
electrodynamics, quantum chromodynamics, etc.). I have never
taken a course in quantum mechanics. I know enough about
quantum mechanics to know that one or two courses would not
be enough for me to understand the subject. I also know that
I would need a fairly deep and broad understanding of classical
mechanics and electrodynamics on which to base my study of
quantum mechanics.

None of that is what afterburner wants. He wants a description
of atoms and photons that is neat, simple, complete, and exact,
which can be expressed in a few sentences, and which he can
understand with the background knowledge he already has.

Gee, I sure would like that, too!

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

18. Originally Posted by afterburner
Atoms. We cant see them, but they must be real becasue we experience them every day. We cannot use photons to see them becasue the very action of firing photons at an atom might change what we are looking at, or it might interact witht an atom in a way that is undesirable (it might get absorbed).
So lets PRETEND, and pretend is key here, that we have particles that are so tiny, they are 1/1,000,000,000,000,000 the diameter of an atom. And we fire THOSE particles at an atom. In this MODEL we will be able to obsercve the atom, much like we observe objects in the macro world (just maybe withough color). But whats more important, is we will know the position of every carrier particle that the atom has, and we will know the "true" composition of the atom.

We say that the electron has a certain probability of being found in an electron cloud. Well, what is the electron doing when we didnt detect it? Witht the use of these tiny particles that i described above, we will be able to model the "path" of the electron. As well as the "path" of all of the carrier particles. The reult - a model of an atom. THIS is the kind of stuff im looking for. ie. what things MIGHT look like IF we had these particles, for the very purpose of undersanding how the world we live in looks, and works.

I understand that this might be a little far fetched, and that the answeres are not yet available, but if things like atoms are "real", then i think that one day we WILL have such models. (in 3D)

I am not proposing the use of such particles, since they dont exist. However, if carrier particles are real (in the way that i described above), there must be a reasonable mechanism, by which the transfer of energy occurs in the PHYSICAL world. ie. the PATH of these carrier particles. Unless, of course, they teleport somehow
The thing is that the evidence suggests that what you are looking for does not exist. That is, you're imagining that these particles must be something like tiny little spheres that have real trajectories. The evidence suggests that it's not just that we cannot precisely measure the position and momentum of an electron at the same time. It's that an electron doesn't even have a precise position and momentum at the same time. The quantum uncertainty isn't just because trying to measure something inevitably disturbs it. It's because, at it's smallest level, electrons and photons and everything else do not behave like little classical particles. I don't think you'll be able to understand the "true composition of the atom" until you can let go of your ideas about what that composition has to be like, and be open to the idea that the way the universe really works is much, much stranger than we might imagine from our everyday experience.

19. 1) Thanks Jeff. You are quite right.

To afterburner:

2) I was neither attacking you personally nor mocking you. You may take it that way if you wish, but that was not my intent.

3) There is no model "that traces the position of every carrier particle, not just the probablility of finding one in a particular volume of space"! Until it is measured, the particle has no definite position, only a probability cloud. The models show the probability clouds, because that is all there is! when an electron is measured, it is found to be a point mass/charge. Until then there is only a probability that it will be found at any given place at any given time.

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Originally Posted by Flying Deuces
science cannot say what matter is. It cannot say what energy is.
It can describe and predict interactions, but it cannot, at this
point, describe essential nature.
Originally Posted by jeff
Science can describe matter and energy very well. Scientists
are able to understand what matter and energy are. They just
can't define them to your satisfaction, because you want them
defined with words, and word definitions are always circular.
Jeff, I truly believe you do not understand the point I'm trying to make, and I'll accept responsibility for not being clear.

One definition of metaphysics is: " A priori speculation upon questions that are unanswerable to scientific observation, analysis, or experiment."

My question is: Of what are the energy, matter, space, fields, forces comprised? What is the essential nature of the universe and what it contains?

You've admitted: whatever it is, it cannot be expressed in words, yet you say science can describe matter and energy very well. I maintain: no, it cannot. It can describe very well how matter and energy behave, but it cannot tell us what it is.

Your alibi is: words are inherently flawed and definitions always are circular. And my response to that is: I see. You say science can describe matter and energy very well, but you cannot explain in words how science describes - and this is my pivot point - the essential nature of matter and energy. You are saying, in effect, I cannot prove to you that science can describe the essential nature of matter and energy, so therefore you are going to have to take my word - and the words of others like you - for it.

And that is a metaphysical statement.

Now, I haven't a problem with that. Do you? In fact, I believe truly that sometimes a metaphysical approach is the first step toward a physical description. But, I find, on this board and elsewhere, some scientists and people of scientific thinking absolutely denying this, as they deny that our elegant and highly successful-at-prediction theories are based upon a mystery, that mystery being: just what IS matter and energy? Not what it does - what is it?

I'm not pressuring anyone to answer that question, though I would like you and others to confirm that question is real, and while its answer currently is in the realm of metaphysics - a priori speculation upon questions that are unanswerable to scientific observation, analysis, or experiment - that situation will not always be the case as long as we keep asking the question as we admit: we do not know.

21. Originally Posted by Grey
I don't think you'll be able to understand the "true composition of the atom" until you can let go of your ideas about what that composition has to be like, and be open to the idea that the way the universe really works is much, much stranger than we might imagine from our everyday experience.
I am prepared to "let go", if you, or anyone else for that matter, provide an explanation. All answers, which the exception of publius, have been very vague. You can be as technical as you want, because im probably going to look up the things i dont understand as i read the replys anyways.

I am going to assume, and correct me if im wrong, that you are talking about the wave nature of matter. Ill admit, i dont know much about it, so keep that in mind when you read the following questions. Ill start from the basics

If we take the hydrogen atom, how many different types of wave functions, is it made up of? What about the oxygen atom?

Are quarks themselves waves?

Explaine this image of the oxygen atom. Also, what is missing from it according to the mainsteam theory. (im not sure if the forces are in it)
How could it be more accurate?

I have more questions, but i will add them as the replys come in.

P.S. I will take your replys and hopefully make a more detailed model in a 3D program. (dont expect it soon, i dont have THAT much time to work on it )