Mass and structure of photon

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The power of obfuscation is real and consequential. We face it everyday from national leaders, politicians, diplomats et al. Serious and huge enterprises may depend on some obfuscation at the core. It then becomes all-important to maintain that obfuscation – even at great cost, even with dishonesty and dishonor. This need becomes greater and more urgent as the enterprise gets bigger and more unwieldy, and the stake becomes higher. Clarity becomes a serious enemy of the defenders of the enterprise. All this we all understand – there is nothing new here.


Of what many may not be aware is that the idea of photon is such an obfuscation at the core of Quantum Theory – in much the same way as above. And Quantum Theory is a gigantic enterprise however you look at it – makingaliving-wise, bigmoneygrant-wise, bigphysicslab-wise, textbookselling-wise, heromaking-wise, facesaving-wise, anywise. It simply wouldn’t do to tear this down.


So the idea of photon is kept artfully and deliberately obfuscated – as it has been for a hundred years. Every other issue in physics is researched and evolves. But not the photon. Never the photon. Every physicist will tell you that photon is one of the most important concepts of physics. No one can tell you what it is. Without obfuscation, that is.


Who maintains this obfuscation?
The supersecret society of the Priory of the Dungeon

An obfuscation within a mystery wrapped in an enigma

A clarity within logic wrapped in reason

Essays on:
Physics in the Twenty-first Century

Series Index


Bibhas De

Copyright 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Bibhas R. De

Dear Visitor:
This web page is best read after you have read the "set-up piece":

The Cat and the Eel

(In the following, I answer questions from an imaginary class of freshman physics students – too young to have developed yet the two essential attributes of today’s full-grown physicist: Arrogance and Hubris.)

Good Morning! Today’s lesson is on The Photon Mystique.
Today’s theme is: Philosophia Krateito Photon.

Q. What is the photon?

A. The photon - according to the present view - is an isolated clump of electromagnetic energy. It moves at the speed of light, c. It has no rest mass – which means that if the photon were stationary, it would have no mass. Therefore, by Einstein’s relativity, the moving photon has no mass either. Even so, it has an observable momentum – which is somewhat strange. A continuous stream of photons makes up an electromagnetic wave (of frequency nu). The energy of the photon is

E = h x nu

Where h is called the Planck’s constant, an extremely small number.

The concept of photon is generally (in the practical world) applied to IR (infrared) and shorter wavelengths (visible light, X ray, gamma ray). Theoretically, the concept applies to any electromagnetic wave.

Q. OK, but what is the photon?

Physicists do not know anything more. Here, for example, you will find a number of definitions of the photon. After you have read them all, you will not be any wiser - you will come out the same door as you went in. This is a veritable Obfuscation Fest. No one has described a photon. No one has said what it looks like. The photon is said to be a quantum of light. The quantum, by its very definition, is a somewhat undefined thing. This scientific concept is entangled with the general notions of probability, uncertainty, indeterminacy – blurring attributes like that. In this sense, the photon today is an enigma.

Q. But can we probe this enigma further?

The powers that be of physics will discourage you from doing that. Why? Let us look into this. If the photon is an isolated clump of electromagnetic energy, then it is made of electric and magnetic fields. That’s all - there is nothing else in it. Spatially, it is of limited extent – the fields go to zero at infinite distances in all directions. But as soon as you arrive at this inevitable picture, you have a big problem. All electromagnetic fields must be capable of being described by Maxwell’s Equations. But this picture cannot be described thus. So, within the enigma, there is a mystery.

Q. Can we delve into this mystery?

Yes, if you work with me here. Now, the above photon is in motion, traveling at a speed c. It is not easy to conceptually deal with things that travel at this speed. Let us stop the photon – so that we have a photon at rest. If it is at rest, that means nothing changes with time. Since there is nothing in the photon besides electromagnetic fields (i.e., electric field and magnetic field), and since isolated electric field in empty space results only from time-varying magnetic field, it follows that this photon at rest is in the end made of nothing but static magnetic field. But a spatially finite structure of static magnetic field is forbidden by Maxwell’s Equations – according to the powers that be. They have set up various theorems that forbid such structures. Therefore, you can see why they do not want you going places on your own – without following their guidance. Their house has a locked secret wing, and you are forbidden to enter there.

No entry

Q. So at the core of the enigma is the mystery, and at the core of this mystery is obfuscation?

Precisely. Here is a good way to remember this:

Today’s photon = [Enigma{Mystery(Obfuscation)Mystery}Enigma]

Q. But is it not essential to have this fuzziness of definition for the concept of photon to work with the rest of physics?

Not necessarily. But this question may lead to further issues..

Q. Can we move past this obfuscation?

The proper question is: Dare you move past this obfuscation? Let me explain what I mean.

Swedish physicist Bo Lehnert, I surmise, had these very thoughts I outlined above. What we do know is that he proposed two new and astounding results: (1) An extension of the present formulation of the Electromagnetic Theory; and (2) An assigning of a small, but nonzero, rest mass to the photon. Correctness aside, this second suggestion in my mind was one of the most important scientific proposals of the twentieth century. Yet, Lehnert’s work seems to have been completely “overlooked” in mainstream physics. He published his paper in a journal called Speculations in Science and Technology.

So, you can try to move past the obfuscation all you want. The powers that be will arrogantly silence you if you are a nobody (as they did me), or benignly ignore you if you are a reputable physicist (as they did Lehnert).

Q. How has this view of photon come about?

To understand this, you have to go the history of physics. The great discoverers of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century laid down the foundation of modern physics. Nothing much has been added to it since. However, this is not to say they completed all that was to be done – foundation-wise and otherwise. One does not expect everything to have been completed by pioneers. Yet, that is the tacit assumption today’s Physics Establishment makes.

And therein lies the problem. The generations that followed those of the great masters produced no one of their stature. Basically, we had people who learned well what was there to learn, understood well what was there to understand, and even incrementally extended the great discoveries. But they lacked the kind of mind the likes of James Clerk Maxwell and Albert Einstein possessed. Therefore, rather than completion of the foundation, what we have seen is building over the incomplete foundation. We needed fine architects. We got bricklayers, even fine bricklayers, instead.

Q. What does this exactly mean with regard to the photon?

Electromagnetic wave and the photon are two inseparable concepts – the way water and ripple are inseparable concepts. Historically, however, the discovery of the wave and the discovery of the photon came from very different directions. Maxwell deduced the wave from his theory, and Einstein deduced the photon from experiments on the photoelectric effect. A few years before this, Max Planck had deduced the quantum. These three concepts were then slapped together in a somewhat ad hoc fashion. Pictorially:

[MAXWELL]           [EINSTEIN]




                      QUANTUM THEORY

Ask a physicist what the connection between light and photon is, and he will say: Light is a stream of photons. Then ask him to draw a sketch of the photons making up a wave of light, he will say: That is not possible. Then you ask yourself the question: Why not?

Q. So there a problem with this picture?

Definitely. As I said before, not only is this slapping together of the photon and the wave is unsatisfactory and unenlightening, but it also forces one to leave the nature of photon unexplored. It says: Leave the mystery be! Quantum Theory is invoked to sanctify this mystery.

Q. What would be the satisfactory and enlightened approach?

By all logic and reason, the wave and the photon should both come out of Maxwell’s Equations.

Q. But they do not?

No. However, this has not much to do with the equations themselves. It is because of these theorems that have been developed, forbidding an isolated electromagnetic structure without any sources in them.

Q. How can further progress be made?

By breaking the lock of that secret wing. Now is a good time to do this. The powers that be of physics are engaged in a raucous party over something called String Theory. They have drunk of the mathematical beauty and elegance of String Theory – they are drunk out of their gourd. Their Gurus are doing a footlight celebrity dance, and the rest are cheering on. They cannot hear you now if you break the lock.

They’re all at the Footlight Hit Parade: Here’s the chance to break in!

Q. What do we expect to find if we break the lock?

I can tell you because I have guessed what’s past the lock. Progress has already been made. The missing foundation has been laid. It is here. Has been or sometime now. If logic and reason demand that the photon be a solution of Maxwell’s Equations, then it must be. That is what I said, and that is what I showed. I showed that Maxwell’s Equations have twin solutions: A dynamic solution, which is the electromagnetic wave; and a static solution, which is the photon at rest. Crystal clarity! In retrospect, Einstein simply interpreted the photoelectric effect correctly to verify the concept of the photon, already contained in Maxwell’s Equations. Pictorially:

THE PHOTON: Old view and the new view

           THE PORTAL

Q. What is The Portal?

The Portal is what you will find if you break into that locked wing. There you will see the debris left over from the construction of the foundation of physics. Because The Portal got buried in the rubble, vast knowledge and its potential have eluded us thus far. I have excavated and unearthed The Portal, and I am suggesting you go on through to a veritable Gold Rush of physics. A New Age – nothing less.

Q. Give us a trail map.

Look at it this way: A photon, as obtained from Maxwell’s Equations, becomes the same as the electromagnetic wave, also obtained from the same equations, when the former travels at the speed c. All this is consistent with the equations. However, what happens if this photon moves at a velocity other than c (why shouldn’t it?)? This situation is not covered in the equations. Therefore, we have what I have called Transmaxwellian physics. Explore this experimentally (as some electrical engineers already have, independently of my ideas) and you will have rich rewards.

Q. Is there anything else a “Gold Rush” prospector should know?

Yes. There is another related result. It is a result as profound as gravitation itself. It says that static magnetic field in empty space is a mass: It is a matterless mass. With this result, one sees that photon also has a mass. This result, however, offers some difficulty with Einstein’s mass-energy relation, and leads to TransEinsteinian considerations.

Q. Didn’t Bo Lehnert also suggest that photon has a mass?

Following his own exploration, Lehnert arrived at two results:

1. Extension of Electromagnetic Theory
2. Assigning of a mass to photon.

Following different paths, I arrived at two results:

1. TransMaxwellian Physics
2. Assigning of a mass to photon.

Thus, of the infinite number of inconceivable ideas in all of physics, we both independently – and without any communication - arrived at the same two forbidden places. What is the probability?

Q. Finally then, what is the photon?

The photon is a finite structure in empty space, made entirely of static magnetic field. The exact structure can be determined by computation from mathematical expressions I have provided. I have also provided the expression for the mass of magnetic field. The exact mass, and thence the corresponding energy of the photon, can then be calculated from the structure. This is the new view of photon:

First, sound reasoning.
Then, scientific logic.
Finally, the clarity of daylight.

Q. OK, so the mass of the photon is something some people are beginning to think about. But structure?! Does anybody else think in terms of a structure of the photon?

Yes. British physicist Myron Evans and French physicist Jean-Pierre Vigier have proposed that associated with the photon, there is a magnetic field component that is parallel to the direction of propagation. This essentially amounts to invoking a structure of the photon - in terms of magnetic field!

Q. Strange that within the mainstream physics establishment we do not hear about these developments which seem to be of far greater import than String Theory and such that we are being bombarded with!

Strange does not even begin to describe the situation.


[Source: Lehnert: ; Vigier:; Evans:]

Swedish physicist Bo Lehnert, French physicist Jean-Pierre Vigier and Welsh chemist Myron Evans have sought to give specificity to the obscure concept of photon. Why have you never heard of these interesting developments with regard to the photon? Because the obscurantist physics establishment keeps them in the deep background through benign neglect.

Q. What are some of the ramifications of the new ideas?

The ramifications are limited only by one’s imagination. Consider, for example, this: A photon spinning about various axes may form various particles.

Q. How can we excavate the rest of The Portal?

I have set up two base camps:

For photon, start from this base camp in the Himalayas!
For matterless mass, start from this base camp draped in magnificent aurora!
Then see what the photon actually is!


The structure and the mass of the photon as described by Bibhas De

Good luck!

Q. If we find something new, what should we do with it?

Keep mum about it. Be satisfied within yourself with the fact that you have gained new knowledge of the Universe. Otherwise, when the powers that be return from partying and find out that you have broken in, they will bury you six feet under. Under the rubble. Be afraid! Very afraid!


Suggested further reading (if you dare): The Priory of the Dungeon