On the Nature of Light. What is a Photon

Last Updated on June 9, 2020 by admin

by John R. Majka
January 13, 1991


It has long been assumed that light is an electromagnetic wave.
Elementary classical physics shows that light photons are not
comparable to an electromagnetic wave. While light photons do have
some characteristics of EM waves, that is not sufficient to c lassify
them as EM waves, or as parts of EM waves, since there a differences
which are more important than their similarities. Relatively recent
experiments with high speed particles shows that these particles behave
almost exactly as light photons behav e. It therefore appears that
light photons are particles of electron decay and are similar to the
particles emitted by the decay of a nucleous.

Since a light photon is generated by a single electron, the comments on
EM waves shall be considered as if the EM wave were generated by a
single electron.

It is assumed that the reader has a familiarity with elementary
classical physics.



An EM wave can generated by a “free” electron, that is, one which is
not bound to a nucleous.

A Light photon must be generated by an electron bound to a nucleous.


EM waves are created by the acceleration of a charged particle, as
demonstrated by Gauss and Maxwell. This particle is usually an
electron. As long as the acceleration continues, the EM wave continues
to be generated. A sinusoidal oscillatory motion is
continuous acceleration. If an electron is in sinusoidal oscillatory
motion, an EM wave will be continuously generated and propagated.

Light is thought to be composed of discrete packets (quanta) of energy
called photons created when an electron drops from one orbit to a lower
orbit. This is a discrete process. In order to generate another light
photon, an electron must acquire energy.

Further Discussion: Energy must be applied in order to keep a free
electron in sinusoidal oscillatory motion, of course. However, it is
possible to keep the same free, single and unique electron in
sinusoidal oscillatory motion to continuously generate an EM wave. If
energy is continously applied to raise a bound electron to a higher
orbit, it can not be determined that that same, single and unique
electron will be effected. Nor can it be determined that that same,
single and unique electron will move to exactly the same orbit as it
previously held. Nor can it be said that that same, single and unique
electron, if raised to a higher orbit, is the one which will fall to
fill the hole in the lower orbit. Any other electron bound to the
nucleous may fall into the lower orbit.

Also, it is not necessary for a full sinusoidal oscillatory cycle to be
completed to generate an EM wave. An EM wave consisting of any portion
of the sinusoidal cycle can be generated or even one with no sinusoidal
oscillatory cycle. There is no lower l imit on the portion of an EM
wave which can be generated and propogated. However, only a full and
complete light photon can be generated.


For most efficient propagation, the length of the path of an electron
in sinusoidal oscillatory motion generating an EM wave is one-half of
the wave length of the wave.

The half wave length of light is 5 to 10 times larger than the diameter
of the largest atom. In order for a bound electron to generate a light
photon by following a half wave length path, it would have to leave the
atom and become a free electron. When it became a free electron,
there is no guarantee that it would return to the lower orbit nor even
to the orbit of it’s atom.


A single EM wave propagates in all directions which are at right angles
to the path of the electron.

A single light photon is propagated in only one direction. The
direction of propogation seems to be that which satisfies orbital
mechanics for that electron. That is, the photon is ejected tangent to
the electron orbit and in the same direction of the e lectron’s travel.
This is exactly the requirement which must be met in order for an
object orbiting the earth (or any other body) to move to a lower orbit.

Further Discussion: A person with whom I discussed this effect pointed
out that his light bulbs emit light in all directions. This is
explained that there is a large number of atoms and electrons in the
filament of a light bulb. The atoms are also agit ated by heat and in
a highly random and disorganized motion. While a light photon is
emitted in only one direction from an electron, at the time of
emission, many electrons are emitting light photons and the directions
are randomly oriented. This also e xplains the different colors in
white light.


The energy density equation for an EM wave is:

U = e(0) * V^2

where “U” is the energy per cubic meter, “e(0)” is the permittivity of
free space, “*” indicates multiplication, “V” is the strength of the
electric field in volts per meter and “V^2” is the strength of the
electric field squared. (Normally, “E” is used to indicate the
electric field, however, the use of that symbol here may lead to
confusion here.)

The energy of a light photon is:

E = h * f

where “E” is the energy of the light photon, “h” is Planck’s Constant
and “f” is the frequency of the light photon.

Further Discussion: Note that for an EM wave, the term used is ENERGY
DENSITY while for a light photon the term used is ENERGY. Clearly,
this indicates that a light photon is not an EM wave. If it were, they
would have one and the same energy density e quation or energy

Let us assume that we have a transmitter which generates an EM wave at
the frequency of 30 Megahertz and with a power of 100 watts. If we
change to 30.001 Megahertz, the power, and the energy density of the
resulting EM wave, remains the same. However, if we change the
frequency of the light photon, the energy in that photon changes.

Implication: There is dust and gasses in free space which absorb
energy from light photons. When the energy of a light photon
decreases, it’s frequency decreases. Thus light coming from distant
stars, galaxies, etc. may experience a red shift merely be cause it’s
light happened to pass through dust or gasses. Einstein’s General
Theory of Relativity has shown that gravity can lower the energy of
light photons and this also produces a red shift. One must be careful
in blindly applying red shifts to dete rmine the distance of far away
astronomical objects. The path the light photons take and the
gravitational strength of their source and objects they pass close to
must be taken into account.



Any EM wave which impinges upon an electrical conductor induces an
electrical current in that conductor which is of exactly the same
frequency as that of the EM wave.

When light photons impinge upon an electrical conductor, no electrical
current is induced.

Further Discussion: Please note that the photoelectric effect of light
photons is an electrical current. However, only certain materials
exhibit the photoelectric effect while all electrical conductors will
have a current induced upon them by an EM wave . Also, the current
induced in the photoelectric effect is a direct current. That is, it
does not have a frequency. The current induced by EM waves upon
electrical conductors is of exactly the same frequency as that of the
EM wave. That is, the electrical current exactly reproduces the EM


All electrically non-conducting materials are transparent to EM waves.

Only certain types of materials, such as clear glass, are transparent
to light photons.


The absorption of EM waves by some electrically non-conducting
materials is due to the physical size of the molecules or atoms of the
materials. If the molecular or atomic physical size is on the order of
one-half of the wave length of the EM wave, the m olecules or atoms
will resonate and the EM wave will be partially or entirely absorbed.
The energy of the EM wave is usually be converted to heat. This is
what occurs in a microwave oven. The material remains transparent to
EM waves of other frequencies .

The absorption of light photons is not dependent upon the molecular or
atomic size of the material but rather on the color of the material.
That is, upon the atom’s or molecule’s structure which does not usually
include size. For example, a green object reflects light photons
whose frequency is what we see as green and absorbs all other
frequencies (colors). Therefore, the absorption of light photons
depends on the electron arrangement within the molecule or atom and not
on it’s physical size.


All EM waves, irrespective of frequency, are reflected only from
electrically conducting materials. However, the density of the
conducting material may effect which frequencies are reflected. This
is what causes radio frequencies to “bounce” off the ion ized layers in
the Ionosphere. When this occurs, all frequencies lower than the
critical frequency are reflected. Higher frequencies are not absorbed
but pass through the ionized layers.

Light photons are reflected from all materials, excepting glass and
similar materials, depending upon the frequency (color) of the light
photons. Otherwise they are absorbed.

A particular case arises when light photons strike an object at less
than a certain angle to the horizontal (the critical angle). If this
should happen, then all light photons, irrespective of frequency, are



Recent experiments have shown that high speed particles exhibit
duality. That is, depending upon the experiment, high speed particles
can behave as “waves” creating interferance patterns, etc. Or they can
behave as particles.

Experiments over the last several decades have shown that light photons
also exhibit duality.


Einsteins famous equation, E = m * c^2, describes the energy a
particle of mass would have if it were converted to energy. (“E”
represents energy, “m” represents the rest mass of the particle, “*”
again represents a multiplication operation, “c” is the speed of
light, and “c^2” indicates the speed of light squared.)

In 1924, Louis de Broglie thought since light photons can behave as
particles, particles might also be able to behave as light photons and
developed the de Broglie equation:

L = h / (m * v)

where “L” is the wave length of a moving particle, “h” is Planck’s
Constant, again, “/” indicates a division operation, “m” is the mass of
the particle or object, “*” indicates a multiplication operation and
“v” is the speed of the particle.

De Broglie developed his equation from the one for the momentum of
light, momentum = (h * f) / c. Since c / f, or speed of light divided
by the frequency, is the equation for the wave length of light (L), f
/ c is the inverse of the wave length ( 1 / L ). Using a little
algebra, de Broglie came up with L = h / momentum.

In Newtonian physics, momentum is m * v, hence the de Broglie equation

However, if we go back to the equation for the momentum of light, that
is, momentum = h * f / c and substitute the momentum of a particle of
mass at light speed, m * c we get:

m * c = h * f / c

using a little algebra ourselves, we not get:

m * c^2 = h * f.

Einstein’s equation for the energy equivalence of mass E = m * c^2 is
shown in this new equation or:

E = m * c^2 = h * f.

That means that in order to convert a particle of mass into energy, we
must get it up to light speed! But that’s impossible…or is it? When
a nuclear bomb is detonated, the energy released is said to be from
matter converted to energy. Just how is it c onverted?

It has been shown by others that when a photon of sufficient energy is
passed close to a large nucleous, the photon is converted into matter.
It is split into a particle and it’s anti-particle. Evidently, the
large nucleous slows down the photon. The po sitive charge of the
nucleous then forces the particles to separate by forcing the
positively charged particle in a path away from the nucleous and the
negatively charged particle in a path towards the nucleous.

If the nucleous converts a photon to matter by slowing it down, then
the opposite is required to convert matter to energy, i.e., speeding it
up to light speed.


There is no proof that the speed of light is the fastest speed at which
anything can travel in this universe.

There is no proof that the speed of light is constant throughout the

There is no proof that objects can not travel at the speed of light.

That light speed is the limit, that it is constant, and that ordinary
matter can not travel at light speed are all ASSUMPTIONS. It is
fortunate that these assumptions make equations result in desired
consquences. However, that does not make them facts.
They are still assumptions. If false premises are assumed, the rules
of logic can still be applied and the results can look valid. Valid
results, however, do not make the assumptions valid.

From the fact that high speed particles behave just like light photons
and light photons behave just like high speed particles, it seems
self-evident that they are two manifestations of the same thing. That
is, light photons are particles travelling at t he speed of light or
that particles are very slow light photons. At the very least, light
is not an EM wave.

It was shown in a previous work by this author (THE UNIVERSE AS A
TRASMISSION LINE) that when charged particles are brought up to the
speed of light, they become electromagnetic waves. However, that work
did not address uncharged particles. It seems evi dent that when
uncharged particles are brought up to the speed of light, they become
light photons.


I have been told that the Bohr Atom has been discredited. What a shame
since recents “photographs” of atoms by IBM laboratories seem to
support the Bohr Atom.

The Bohr Atom is commonly shown as electrons orbiting a nucleous in
much the same way the planets of our solar system orbit the sun. It
should be realized that depictions of both are merely schematic. It is
hardly likely that Bohr intended to show that atoms had only a two
dimensional structure. However, limited to two dimensional media, that
is the best that can be done. It seems quite likely that Bohr only
attempted to describe a three dimensional arrangement. The same type
of arrangement shown by the IBM “photos” of atoms.

I have been told that the “correct” structure of an atom is that of
electrons moving about the nucleous in a wave which is described by
probability. This does seem to contradict the IBM “photos”. Also it
seems to contradict logic. Probability is fine f or a lot of things.
However, probability can also be used when equipment or theory is not
adequate to explain reality. Probability creates ambiguity which some
thrive on.

It is intuitively obvious that should, by some chance, the electrons
about a nucleous become arranged in a two dimensional structure, they
would very shortly move into a three dimensional structure due to the
influence of the electrons upon each other, th e influence of the
nucleous, and, most important, the influence of other atoms.

It is also intuitively obvious that the orbit of electrons about a
nucleous would not be circular. The influence of other electrons
within the atom and the influence of electrons from other atoms insure
that a circular path would not occur. Or, if it di d occur, would not
last long. However, this does not mean that the electrons do not
maintain a certain distance, or limited range of distances, from their
nucleous. It only means that their exact path would not be predictable
unless the atom were entire ly isolated from outside effects.

If the effects of electrons from other atoms and from within the same
atom were known. The path of any electron could be determined. Since
it is not now possible to know that information, it is easier to
describe the electron paths as probabilities. Th at does not make them
wavicles, or what ever. The electrons are objects. We just don’t
exactly where they are.

Therefore, it seems that Bohr’s description of the atom was quite
accurate. A schematic, of course, but nonetheless, quite accurate.