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Physics/A photon paradox


If I understand the implications of special relativity, a photon traveling at c experiences NO TIME. From our perspective, it takes a photon a little more than 8 minutes to reach us from the sun. From the photon's perspective the trip takes zero time and so it covers zero distance. Does that mean that all photon's "see" the universe as one dimensional? Doesn't that also mean that since a photon experiences no distance to reach us, then it cannot have a frequency or wavelength in its reference frame, since they both require the existance of time and distance which, in the photon's reference frame, doesn't exist?

Photons don't "see" the universe.  Time does not pass for them, nor are they conscious.  But it does cover distance, from its "perspective."  Distance is like time for a photon, in a way.  In its reference frame a photon has field strengths and directions, and distance is one of those directions.  I think the confusion comes from you thinking that the photon has no distance in the direction it travels.  In fact, the Lorentz contraction simply means that the distance is contracted to zero.  Therefore the photon does not actually have to travel any distance to interact, it is simply made and absorbed at the same location (the entire universe being contracted to a plane of zero thickness).  So it does exist, but from a photon's "perspective" it is simply the interaction of emitter/receiver which actually are in contact.


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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