A Journal for Western Man
Light is not a Wave
Errors of Post-Classical Fysics Series: Part III
G. Stolyarov II
Issue XLVI- January 7, 2006
Note: This article is the third in Mr. Stolyarov's "Errors of Post Classical Fysics" series. The first two articles are "Modern Scientists' Faulty Definitions of Matter" and "Light is not a Particle."
This article will do away with the second part of the false particle/wave duality of light—the fashionable view among modern fysicists which is often used to justify discarding the laws of identity, causality, and non-contradiction. In A Rational Cosmology, Chapter VII, I had refuted the view of light as a wave thus:
A wave is a relationship of entities, a periodic disturbance of them. In order to travel from point A to point B, a wave has to encounter continuous entities to periodically disturb! Sound waves, for example, encounter such a continuity of entities in the form of air molecules. However, in a vacuum, where no such continuity is present, neither is there sound. Light, on the other hand, can be made manifest through a vacuum, an observation requiring no highly specialized study. One needs only look out into the night sky and realize that one is seeing celestial objects separated from the Earth by billions of kilometers of the near-total vacuum which is space. Yet, somehow, light enables one to see them nonetheless! The Sun is separated from the Earth by some 150 million kilometers of vacuum, yet its light not only is perceptible on Earth, but is the primary source of light here, and the precondition for all life on this planet. Thus, vacuum is not only no impediment to light, but light must be quite adept at transcending vacuum in massive quantities.
The objection might be raised that outer space is not a complete vacuum, but that the occasional gas molecule does appear there. However, there is certainly not a continuity of any type or combination of particles beyond the reach of a given planet's atmosfere, and a wave relationship, in order to be exhibited, requires a continuity of particles that exert contact forces on one another. Two hydrogen molecules five hundred kilometers apart will not produce a wave relationship. Thus, in order to transcend a vacuum, light cannot be a wave, but rather must be some other fenomenon.
Presently, I shall expand on this refutation and show exactly where modern scientists have committed the error that led to their classification of light as a literal “wave.” The post-Classical scientists’ error is twofold. It falsely identifies the relationship of light as equal to another relationship which accompanies it: electromagnetic force. Furthermore, it reifies the model describing such electromagnetic force and tries to pass off that model as an actual existent in itself.
On The Autonomist Forum, I was asked whether it is proper for a non-experimental filosofer like myself to challenge scientists’ interpretations of experimental data and their theories about parts of observable reality, such as light. The implication behind the question was that reasoning alone does not suffice to understand light, and that the highly particular observations of experimentalists are needed to make any sense of it. I disagree with this premise. Filosofers are equipped to determine the nature of light, because they actually observe light through their senses in an unavoidable manner. They have all the data they will ever need, and nothing is capable of contradicting that data. They also have other data which is just as important: data on the ubiquitous qualities of entities, which states that all entities must have matter, volume, length, width, height, and time.
Rational filosofers also understand that waves are relationships: they are systematic vibrations of particles. My theory claims that wave/particle “dualities” are impossible, since a particle is an entity, and a wave is a relationship. Light cannot be both a particle and a vibration of particles. That would violate the law of non-contradiction, just as a moving entity cannot be motion itself—to illustrate the absurdity of the particle-wave duality by a more explicit analogy. No existent can be both an entity and a relationship, even if the “entity” parts are clearly distinguishable from the “relationship” parts. I cannot be a “moving person” in context X, but “motion itself” in context Y. The two are fundamentally distinct categories of existence.
Light cannot be a wave, because waves are systematic vibrations of particles. Yet light can be transmitted through a vacuum, where there are no particles. How can there be vibrations of particles (waves) where no particles exist (a vacuum)? This is another contradiction, which rules out the wave nature of light.
Oscillations of “Electromagnetic Properties”?
In an attempt to defend the wave model of light, Reginald Firehammer wrote to me on The Autonomist Forum, claiming that light’s “wave nature” is fundamentally different from the wave nature of a vibrating string, or of periodically vibrating particles, as in sound. Mr. Firehammer suggested using the word, “oscillation,” rather than, “wave,” to discuss light’s behavior. “Oscillation” is defined as, “a regular periodic variation in value about a mean.” Mr. Firehammer elaborated:
The oscillating nature of light is the fact that over time, the magnetic and electrical characteristics vary with a specific period called its frequency. The reason the word "wave" came to be used is because the particular periodic nature of the variation in the magnetic and electrical characteristics happens to be described as sinusoidal, the graphic representation of which is called a sine wave. The question, "If light is a wave, what is it a wave of?" is a mistaken question, a mistake I admit I've made in the past. When light is described as a wave, it is only the periodic natures of its magnetic and electrical characteristics that are meant.
The problem with this explanation is that electricity and magnetism are forces characteristic of specific types of entities. Magnetism is characteristic of magnets and/or electromagnets. Light is neither. Furthermore, electricity is characteristic of either the motion of a stream of electrons (as in electric current) or of entities which have more or fewer electrons than they do protons (static charge). No non-magnetic entity can have a magnetic field. No entity which is neither conducive to electric current nor statically charged can have an electric field.
Light is not composed of nor conducive to protons and electrons; thus, the designation, “electricity,” cannot be applied to it in any fashion. Light is not made of any element or compound with magnetic properties, either. Even under the “foton” hypothesis, light does not consist of magnets and electrons; a “foton” is thought to be something else.
So, how can there be a magnetic or electric “field” to light without the presence of the entities which can result in such a “field”? A field is not an entity in itself, by the way; it is simply a convenient mathematical model for expressing force interactions between a given object and a known test particle placed at any distance from that object. A field, in other words, is a model describing a force relationship between the entity and a test particle. With light, what and where is the entity that is thus relating?
All metal magnets are composed of either iron, nickel, or cobalt. Light is not composed of any of these. All electromagnets involve a moving current of electrons, whose effects can be analyzed via the model of a magnetic field. Light is not composed of electrons nor of a material conducive to the movement of electrons. Light is neither a magnet nor an electromagnet; thus, it cannot exhibit magnetic properties or “fields.” Since light nowhere consists of the motion of electrons or the uneven ratio of electrons to protons, light qua light also cannot exhibit electrical properties or “fields.”
I have thus shown that light itself cannot exhibit the “electromagnetic oscillations” attributed to it by post-Classical fysics.
What are the “Electromagnetic Properties” Properties of?
After proving that light qua light cannot have “electromagnetic oscillations” of its own, I must reconcile my theory with experimental evidence. Experimental data suggests that such “electromagnetic oscillations” accompany the transmission of light in all instances. Reality brooks no contradictions; thus, it must be that experimental evidence ought to be explicable via rational cosmology’s view of light as a distance relationship between source and target entities.
We know that light itself does not consist of electromagnetic oscillations; light, as a relationship, cannot exhibit “fields” or oscillations of those “fields.” Only entities can exhibit “fields,” i.e., attract specified other target entities with certain magnitudes of force at certain locations.
Consider the origins of all known light; that is, consider the possible types of sources that can exhibit this light. There are two such sources: the first is chemical compounds that react with each other via a process known as combustion. The combustion reaction, as a byproduct, often emits light—whether it be the combustion of a fire, a candle, or the immense quantity of reactions among chemical components of the Sun. The second type of light source is an object which conducts electric current: a light bulb, a light-emitting diode, or any other of a myriad of electrically-powered man-made sources of illumination.
What do the two types of light sources have in common when they originate the relationship known as light? The answer: the systematic motion of electrons. In every combustion reaction, as in every genuine chemical reaction, valence electrons are transferred from some types of atoms to others. All flames, produced in combustion, are conductors of electricity, due to the ionization of some of the particles partaking in the combustion reaction. Thus, those types of combustion reactions that produce light—as manifested by flames—are also conducive to the motion of electrons. An electric current, like the one required for a light bulb to function, can, too, only be produced via the motion of electrons. Furthermore, anytime electric current is conveyed through a wire or other conductor, the resultant system exhibits the relationship of magnetism—a magnetic force that attracts or repels target entities in the vicinity. Furthermore, any system that conducts electricity will also be able to attract or repel other electrically charged entities with an electrical force.
We thus know that electricity is the systematic motion of electrons, which occurs in all sources of light. This motion is necessary and sufficient to result in both an electrical and a magnetic force. It follows from this that an entity, the light source, produces these forces; light itself does not produce them. An entity, the light source, is describable via the so-called electrical and magnetic “fields,” which are but models stating that the source will attract appropriate targets via certain amounts of electrical and magnetic forces at certain distances from it. Light itself is not composed of electrons, and thus cannot exhibit electricity. Yet every light source requires the systematic motion of electrons to emit light. Thus, the light source, not light itself, may have electrical and magnetic properties.
The “electromagnetic oscillations” observed experimentally are, in fact, just another relationship between the light source and targets in its vicinity. The “oscillations of a field” are not real entities or processes, because there is no such real entity as a “field.” An “oscillating field” is but a model that predicts the magnitude of the force on a given target particle at a given distance from the source. It differs from a regular “constant field” only in that the magnitudes of expected force at a given location change with time, and their change can be grafed to produce a sinusoidal pattern.
Furthermore, the electromagnetic oscillations produced by the light source do not imply that light, or any other relationship, can “travel” through space. Where there is no target entity, there is no force, and there is certainly no “oscillating force” or “oscillating field.” A field describes potentiality, not actuality; at a location where nothing exists, a field only describes what would happen if something existed there.
Light Itself is not an Electromagnetic Oscillation
I have shown that the model of “electromagnetic oscillations” does not describe a property of light, but rather a set of predictions for the effects of the entity which is also the light source on potential target entities. Furthermore, while the electrical and magnetic forces are relationships between the light source and some target entities, they are not equivalent to light itself. They simply always accompany the relationship of light, because every light source involves the systematic motion of electrons to bring about light.
Any force, whether it is a contact force or a force at a distance, can be described as a push or a pull. A force manifests itself by and only by accelerating the target entity affected by it. Newton’s Second Law expresses this via the equation, ΣF=ma, stating that the sum of the forces on an object is equal to the product of the object’s mass and its acceleration. Because the infliction of a force on an object is unable to change that object’s mass, the force relationship can only manifest itself by accelerating the object. (By Newton’s Third Law, both entities involved in a force pair are in fact the originators and recipients of the same magnitude of force, oppositely directed.) Any acceleration will naturally alter the observable motion of an object thus accelerated, since that object’s velocity will change with time.
So, if light itself were an “electromagnetic force,” we would expect the very emission of light and its reception by a target entity to visibly affect the motion of that target entity. Yet no entity accelerates simply because it is illuminated. Ubiquitous observation shows beyond doubt that the vast majority of illuminated entities originally at rest remain at rest once illuminated, and illuminated entities originally in motion do not change their motion upon illumination. Since they were not accelerated by illumination, and since every force accelerates its target entities, we must conclude that light is not a force; nor can light be the “oscillation” in the “field” pertaining to that force.
The electric and magnetic force relationships are necessarily exhibited by every light source, because they are necessarily originated via the same fenomenon—electricity—as light itself. This is why one can expect models that describe such relationships to accompany every instance of light. But just because two fenomena have a similar origin does not mean that they are identical. Light is not a force, nor are all illuminated entities impacted by an electromagnetic force. Light is another type of relationship between source and target; its consequence is illumination, not acceleration.
We have thus explained experimental evidence of electromagnetic forces pertaining to light sources as compatible with rational cosmology’s view of light as a distance relationship between source and target. The view of light as a “wave” is a false reification of a mathematical model which describes changes in a property that accompanies light, but is not light itself. It is a double error: a misapprehension of what the model actually describes, and a confusion of the model with actual reality.
No relationship can be a wave without being the actual systematic vibration of particles. The post-Classical view of light as a “wave” is but the result of a series of logical fallacies misinterpreting experimental data. Only the guidance of rational filosofy can enable scientists to correct such fundamental errors.
G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent filosofical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician and composer, contributor to organizations such as Le Quebecois Libre, Enter Stage Right, and The Autonomist. Mr. Stolyarov is the Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator and a Senior Writer for the Liberal Institute (http://www.liberalinstitute.com). He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.
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