Hi all,
My students have created a blog discussion on whether or not light is matter. If you would be interested in adding your ideas it would be wonderful. My students love to get feedback and argue their ideas. Here is the site, simply sign in as guest, with password as guest.

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I once commented that light is a matter. My professor did not agree ( light has no mass). Hovewer, if light is not a matter, thenwhat is it, an idea ? Remember phylosophy? materialists and idealists?. We materialist beleive that a field is a form of a matter, otherwise what is it ? An idea, an illusion ...?
Please, oh, please post this comment to our blog. The kids are getting restless because no one has commented.
Dear Stacey,

I posted my comments on your school's blog. I loved your student's comment!
I asked my 12'th graders to write an essay to-day if light is a matter.
There is something interesting going on: electrons travel from high energy level to a low energy level
and loose in energy. It is lost in the form of electro-magnetic radiation. What part of an electron is lost ?.
It is a subatomic particle, a photon.
Is an electric field related to a radiation? It appears that it also is mediated by photons.
Dear Stacey,
I posted some thoughts on the blog, I hope that I stimulated a little interest.
Here is the response:
"BOY! This a tough discussion, and many Physics professors will disagree.

Light behaves as a wave form of energy and behaves as matter. It travels at the speed of light, afterall it is light. Yet, it is affected by gravity.

What was Einstein's explanation of the gravity effect?

If a Photon is matter, then it is the only matter that travels at the speed of light. That's about 186,000 miles a second, give or take a little.

Can you set up a little in school experiment to examine the qualities of light?

You'll need a light source, a light measuring device (photometer) and a method to observe the "mass" effect of light.

Light will diffuse, reflect, and refract in the presence of matter. There is a device that spins in the presence of light energy. These were widely available when I was a kid.....way long ago. It looks like a light bulb with a four bladed wheel inside. The blades are alternately painted white and black.

Check it out and set up an experiment based on some written assumptions.

Good Luck"

John J Caprice / from classroom 2.0
It crossed my mind that of 4 types of matter ( excluding known low temperature forms of matter)
plasma is considered to be the forth form and it is a form of electro-magnetic radiation, which is very well detectable as in your case of the "mass effect" - it burns.
Dear Nellie,
It has been a little over 35 years since college Physics...So, I am a little rusty, except for the occassional "NOVA" episode or special on the Science Channel. I'll have to buff up on "Plasma" characteristics.
Electro magnetic radiation, at the right frequency and power output, increases the random motion water molecules, The measure of molecular random motion is heat. When I was in the NAVY, we could not go aloft unless all the radar equipment was disabled. The radiation would "fry us", direct quote. Hence the devolpment of the first "Radar Range" , that we now call the "Microwave Oven"

The "matter vs.enegry" discussion is a long standing one. I recall these same points in college. I don;t believe that there is a clearly defined distinction when we are dealing with the properties of "light". It is quite different from electromagnetic radiation, which has no mass, yet "light" appears to have frequencies.
I'll do a little more reading,,,,

Do you have the opportunity to discuss the BIG BANG Theory in Class? I have a lot of arguments about that one!
Thanks,,,Keep em' thinking!

You all are great! My students will be replying soon.
It is fun to help sweet 6th graders.
Hi Nellie,

I took a moment to review a physics forum thread discussing the "is light matter" question. Needless to say, the debate rages on. I have had a few arguments. make that rude discussions, on this site. Some people worship what they have learned and mastered, they provide very strict authoritative answers, backed up with mathematical equations that apply to the observed principals in question. Blinded by knowledge, perhaps. This is against my grain, I enjoy wondering "WHY?" and try not to confuse it with "HOW". I was introduced to a quote in High School, " We come to question knowledge, not to praise it." I could never determine the author of that phrase, a little twist on a line in "Julius Ceasar".
My teachers were Augustinian Priests, a pretty tough, but respected group of men. I studied Biology in College and we were taught to question and verify. Our experimental design was setup to disprove our hypothesis, not support it.
You have provided your students with a "Gordian Knot", The discussion may never be resolved.
Let's see what the kids think....they'll teach us a thing or two.
Dear John, How about the Big Bang?
AH! One of my favorites! I am glad you asked. This is not a PhD. opinion, just the result of a lot of thought. maybe a little reason tossed in irrationally, OF COURSE!

This entire theory is based on one observation. Edwin Powell Hubble, using long exposure photograhic film, he discovered that our Milky Way Galaxy had neighbors that were Galaxies too, lots of them. He also noted that the spectrum of the visible light captured, shifted toward the "red" fequency. This observation suggests, that these galaxies are moving away from the Earth. He theorized that if two masses are moving away from each other, they must have occupied the same space at one time. That makes sense.
If you hit a ball with a bat, the ball is traveling away from the bat.....but what if you swing a bat and your buddy throws a ball away from you....GEE! You might think that the bat and ball were in contact.....Glad that I thought of that.

After literally thousands of galaxy spectrum measurements, all demonstrating a "doppler like" shift in light frequency, the BIG BANG THEORY was born.....Now we know that there are billions of galaxies containg billions of stars...Wow that is a lot of mass!

But there are observations and calculations that may contradict the BB theory.
The actual Science and Math is beyond my comprehension, however this is what I understand.

Astronomers have calculated that there is not enough "known" matter in the Universe to substantiate the BB theory from a gravitational perspective. To make the BB theory comply, they predicted that there must be "dark matter" throughout the Universe. Dark matter is matter that we cannot observe. They used to speculate that there were alternate Universes in different dimensions, but that didn't fly well in the face of reason. Great for Science Fiction stories though.

Everytime we discover a new galaxy that is at the outer edge, we push back the estimated date of the BB. I have a small problem with that, it always coincides with the distance of the outermost galaxy. If a galaxy is determined to be 14 Billion light years away, then the BB occured 14 Billion years ago.
That would imply that the relative motion of that galaxy is the speed of light...HMMMM....OH!
A recent notable Phyicist explained that, at the time of the BB,,,the laws of nature did not exist.
So we cannot understand how matter got where it was....."Please pass the KoolAid. our spaceship is almost here."

I see a pattern here....Is the BB a Scientific Theory or an article of Faith. A Scientific Theory is a belief based upon observations, experimentation and reason. Faith is a belief based on Reason alone. The supporters of the BB have crossed the line from Science to Faith.

There was one interesting Science program that I watched about a year ago. A group of scientists were attempting to lower the temperature of a gas to Absolute Zero, -270 degrees Kelvin. A temperature, at which, there is no random molecular motion. They could not reach -270, but they came within a few degrees. One of their experiments involved passing a laser beam through the gas. They observed that there was a reduction in the speed of light...OH BOY! Poor EINSTEIN! He rolled over with that discovery. So why am I relating this experiment....If a beam of light must travel for 14 Billion Years through the vastness and near "absolute zero" stillness of space...How reliable is our observation of that beam of light? I'm not sure, but that was some trip!

One last little problem, the Milky Way Galaxy is predicted to collide with another neighboring Galaxy in the next billion or so years....I guess nobody told that Galaxy that it was traveling in the wrong direction....Where are those Space Police when we need them?
One last note! We exist in a dynamic Universe, everything is in motion. the Earth revoles around the Sun, the Sun revolves around a "Central Point" of the Milky Way and.....What does the Milky Way revolve around????? That's a big question.

Thanks Nellie, I've emptied out some brain cells...I may have even lost a pound or two.
Dear John, Could you post it on the FORUM, please ?



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