The dual nature of light

Scientists have been puzzled for hundreds of years about some aspects of light that appear to contradict each other. In fact, light sometimes behaves like a wave and sometimes it behaves like a stream of particles.

The wave theory of light seems to be confirmed by the observation of interference patterns, and the corpuscular theory finds confirmation in other manifestations, such as the observation of colours when light gets broken by a prism.

It would appear that, in order to travel far distances from a substantially point-formed source, light has to be of a wave nature, without particles, such as photons, travelling through these immense reaches of space. Imagine all of the immense "sphere" of space within the range of visibility of a source of light, say a star, being actually filled with particles emanated by that light source. The expenditure in terms of mass would be tremendous. The stars would in short order be exhausted.

So in order to travel interstellar distances, as light and all other electromagnetic waves evidently travel, a medium, in or through which these waves travel, has been postulated. It has been called various names and has been maligned and even "cancelled" by some scientists who argue that since no one has so far been able to detect this medium, it cannot exist.

The medium of course does not obey the scientists and cease to exist just because we have not been able to detect the ether-drift. This should even be said with some qualifications because a Bulgarian Physicist, Stefan Marinov, with a relatively simple experiment, has determined that a movement of planet earth against "absolute space" can indeed be detected and quantified.

His papers have consistently been rejected by the editors of the official scientific publications, thus preventing his theories from getting known and widely discussed.

Not being a physicist myself, I cannot presume to judge his experiments nor his theories, but I am convinced that a healthy course of action would be to publish and thoroughly discuss his views and discoveries, instead of building a wall of non communication to silence a voice that dares speak up against such recognized authorities as Einstein and to overthrow some of the views held by what we might call "establishment physics".

Leaving the establishment for a moment by the wayside and returning to the main argument under examination, some kind of a "background" in space exists and it might variously be called aether, sea of energy, tachyon field, space-time-continuum or simply absolute space. It is against that background, which so far has eluded our direct observation, that the so-called electromagnetic waves propagate.

The background, apart from having a high potential energy density, has some properties that are, so to say, "out of our universe". It has been described as an immense field oscillating at a frequency and at speeds outside of our possibilities to measure.

It is this field or background that gets excited in wave like motions, propagating in essentially spherical form, by the source or emitter of radiation. An analogy in a two-dimensional frame of reference is the surface of a body of water, on which waves propagate in concentric rings. In our space background, we have concentric shells or spheres of wave propagation.

The speed of propagation of these waves is specific to the medium and is what we know as the "speed of light". If we add to the background field a physical universe medium that allows the passage of light, this speed may be temporarily slowed down, but it will resume its "natural" velocity when the medium has been passed and the wave travels once more in the background field alone. These differences in speed have actually been observed.

When light is directly observed, it is always in the form of photons, that is, tiny particles that will strike a sensitive surface such as our retina or a light-sensitive instrument and determine certain reactions, called perception or instrument "read".

How does this change come about? How can light be one moment a wave, the next a physical object?

To comprehend this, we must slightly revolutionize our concept of what is mass, what is a particle. In my view (and here we enter territory that is not at this time explored or even considered by establishment science), all particles are nothing more than local irregularities, local self-sustaining "tornadoes" in the background field of space. The properties commonly associated with particles, such as mass and inertia, arise out of the movement, the spin, of these tiny tornadoes.

One fundamental kind of particle, and perhaps even the building-block of other particles, is the photon. A photon is the result of the wave of light hitting a non-penetrable barrier, such as a material object. The result of this collision is a local disturbance of the background field, that can be perceived by the human eye and by our measuring instruments - the photon.

Light, to be observed at all, has necessarily to hit a barrier and the impact will transform the wave into a "particle", or rather into a little spin-off tornado.

Thus we see that light can be a wave one moment and a stream of particles the next.

Both manifestations can of course also be intermingled, some of the light continuing its travel as a wave after impact with a reasonably smooth surface, and some of it "lighting up" the place of impact.

A mirror is a special kind of "barrier" that will not destroy the wave but merely send it back in a certain direction depending on the angle of incidence. Its exceptionally smooth surface allows the wave to recompose as a wave, going off in a different direction, instead of being disrupted as it is by other kinds of solid objects.

It would exceed the scope of this article to discuss the composition of "solid" objects, of matter as such, but the following may be of relevance: There is a strong case for matter itself being nothing but energy, trapped into a durable form, made up in much the same way as photons - a local disturbance of the ever-present background field. Matter, thus, does not seem to have an independent existence except as an accumulation of a great number of mini-tornadoes in the background of space which in turn is pure potential energy.

Motion is what puts things together, what constructs our universe. The wave like motion of the space background is what we call light waves and the spiralling motion that follows out of collisions, forming what we call visible light and probably even what we insist is "solid" matter.

My purpose in writing this article is to stimulate thought and discussion about some of the basic assumptions in physics.

Josef Hasslberger
Rome, Italy