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Rodot t1_ivmvufb wrote

According to Maxwell's equations, a changing electric field creates a magnetic field, and a changing magnetic field creates an electric field. If you set this up as a set of differential equations you get perpendicular propagating waves in the electric and magnetic fields.

A charged particle moving at a constant speed makes a constant magnetic field. An accelerating charge makes a changing magnetic field which makes a changing electric field etc. which makes an electromagnet wave. The quantization of this field results in the waves propagating as photons.


OfLittleToNoValue t1_ivoeg6p wrote

But where do the photons come from?


Rodot t1_ivojlpk wrote

From the electromagnetic field


OfLittleToNoValue t1_ivoop6h wrote

They just poof into existence? I'm assuming I just don't understand what a photon actually is.


Rodot t1_ivopmiw wrote

Think of a photon as similar to a musical note when you play an instrument. For a string instrument, you pluck the string and it causes it to vibrate at a specific frequency depending on the length (i.e. it's boundary conditions). This is kind of like a photon but instead of plucking a string you are "plucking" the electromagnetic field and it makes a vibration at a certain frequency depending on the boundary conditions (electrons, ions, etc) of the system.


OfLittleToNoValue t1_ivorr0q wrote

I understand sound to be the consecutive vibration of atoms which is why sound cannot traverse a vacuum. For light to traverse space is my understanding that is that photos are some kind of discrete particle with mass and that's why things like solar sails work.

From what you're saying, the interaction of the fields creates photons. Is this energy converting into matter and the genesis of a discrete particle?


Rodot t1_ivorv7u wrote

Photons do not have mass. They do carry momentum though.


OfLittleToNoValue t1_ivosz7x wrote

Man I feel dumb. What is a photon made of then? It's just energy that flows and glows until it dissipates? Thanks for humoring my ignorance!


Rodot t1_ivqj6cx wrote

Photons are made of photons. They are fundamental particles