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Help - Lots Of Questions By A Novice - About Photons / Light

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Posted by Alan Read on April 26, 2002 15:36:25 UTC

Not a scientist so sorry if these are stupid questions.

Why and how does light travel through some solid objects and not others. What I mean is - if light is a particle why, when it travels through glass does it not get destroyed on impact with the first atoms of silicon etc which it meets. For that matter why is glass transparent at all?

(I know that some high energy particles can travel through a range of solid objects, but did not think light fell into this category.)

Does the photon get destroyed and recreated over and over again as it interacts with each atom? If it does not interact why doesn't it?

I could understand if light is a wave then it might be travelling through the medium the same way that sound travels. I suppose sound is a form of energy, dissipated as heat when it moves through any medium. I understand it vibrates the material through which it passes and passes out the other side. Does light do this.

When light is defracted through a prism does this tell me that each photon is a cluster of particles each having different characteristics and each being impeded to a different extent by the medium it passes through. If its a wave is it a packet of different frequencies all travelling together? That being the case then, is it the frequency of the matter (I suppose I mean the frequency that the atoms/protons etc vibrate at) that is important - do they support the frequency of light rather then collapse the wave and convert the energy into heat.

If light is a wave how does it travel through a vacuum i.e. space. How do electromagnetic pulses and radio pass through a vacuum? Can space really be a vacuum if these waves travel through it, what carries the waves?

Sorry, but as you can see my knowledge is very primitive, but I will appreciate any guidance.

Alan.



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