Photon, Graviton, Contradiction

 Abstract: No need to dig very deep to find glaring contradictions in today’s physics. A discreet warning to those who act as if everything important is already understood.  I exhibit a few elementary reasonings where basic physics ominously implodes like an overstuffed star. Among other implosions, the “Planck Length” is derived, not from dimensional analysis, but through an outrageously simple analysis.



 May 8, 1945, the 68th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. A big deal in France. Starting in 1934, the French republic armed itself to the teeth to crush fascism. It took a while, but it worked. At this point, fascism is only history in Europe (and don’t forget the collapse of the USSR).

 Keeping May 8 as a mandatory vacation day helps to remind the young generations that for the Republic to fight racial fascism cost, over 31 years, more than four million dead, in the French empire alone. (More than 100 million, 5% of the world’s population, died, all together. More if one counts the (“Spanish“) flu epidemics that hitched a hike on the military situation)

 Fascism was an erroneous system of thoughts and emotions. All the more striking as it struck mostly the country with the most intellectual hubris, namely the “German Reich“. The basic mental deviations inciting such errors are best studied in pure science, or aeronautics; as the  situations are clearer.

 When looking at history on the largest scale, what counts are optimal results. If one gets optimally to a disastrous result, it’s still disastrous. The Greeks had tremendous physics. At least, they built excellent ships. Roman cements were astounding; they made siphons on such a scale, aqueducts could cross valleys this way.  

 Yet, both Greek optics and Greek were full of correct, intricate considerations. Yet, both were not just false, but inside out, the exact opposite of the truth in the most fundamental message.

 How did it happen? The Greeks had overlooked the obvious. It should have been obvious that the Sun, being so much more enormous than the Earth, did not turn around it: that contradicted intuitive notion about centrifugal forces (say when launching a stone from a sling), and the fact the much smaller moon rotated around the Earth.

 In optics, simplistic experiments would have shown light came from the observed objects, not conversely.

 The Greeks had overlooked the obvious in physics. I will talk about something that maybe similar. Now. Keeping in mind that the Greeks overlooked the obvious so much that their democracy lost three wars to plutocracy in 250 years. Thereafter democracy, or even a republic was not to be seen in Greece again for nearly 2150 years. I claim that’s related. The lack of necessary criticism. It may show up in politics, but it trains best in physics.



 Let’s assume light had a mass, m. (OK, modern physics assumes that light has no mass… otherwise modern physics would not be coherent. But that does not prove that light has, indeed, no mass!)

 If the mass of light were small enough, it would not be experimental detectable.

 Now let’s equate the energy of said mass to 1/2 mvv, the traditional kinetic energy. (Purists who know the Special Theory of Relativity will scream, as this is only the leading term in E = mcc.)

If the star is massive enough, it will bring light to a standstill, by pulling on it hard enough (forget about the geodesics of General relativity!)

 Now the potential gravitational energy of a mass m located at radius R in the gravitational field of a star of mass M is: GmM/R .

 Equating the kinetic energy with the gravitational potential energy:

 1/2 mvv = GmM/R. Putting v=c, the speed of light, eliminating the m’s, we get:

 R = 2 GM/cc

 This is the so-called Schwarschild Radius. When a star of mass is smaller than R, light can’t get out. That reasoning was made by the super mathematician and physicist Pierre Simon de Laplace in the Eighteenth Century. That is, during the Enlightenment. Laplace concluded that “les objets les plus massifs de l’univers ne peuvent etre vus (the most massive objects in the universe may not be seen). [To be entirely fair, an obscure Brit seems to have had the same idea too, at the time.]



 Laplace above made the hypothesis of what some physicists in 1929 came to call the “photon”, the particle of light. Meanwhile De Broglie rolled out his hypothesis that to each body a wave is associated. Although that does not prove the converse, namely that, to each wave a particle is associated, physicists take this for granted. 

 That there are gravitational waves, there is no doubt. Why? Because if one wiggles around a source of gravitation (say, a star), the direction of the incoming pull will vary, so a distant observer will be tugged back and forth. As the distance from the source augments, this will organize itself in nice waves.

 Backtracking conceptually, one gets particles of gravitation similar to particles of light, the gravitons. 

 Why not to play the game above?

 I made this smart remark one day to a Field Medalist specialist of General Relativity. He literally got enraged, fuming, repeating the offending sentence to himself, but unable to find a smart repartee. Indeed. There is none.

 If one plays the game above, the game Laplace first played, no graviton will be able to exit a sufficiently massive star, so the star, not only will not be seen, but not be felt. No wonder my friend got enraged.

 Could that really happen? Why not? Where would the energy go? if one insisted to keep the conservation of energy law? Well, what about coming out somewhere else as Dark Energy? 

 (Remember, we do not know, at all, about the dimensional structure of the universe; so energy could leak, through another dimension; a similar argument is central to some ultra modern theories of gravitation.)



 Another avenue of meditation is to observe that the Schwarschild Radius also exist for a graviton of mass m. It’s 2Gm/cc.

 The graviton’s own mass pulls the graviton itself towards itself. At high enough energy, the graviton becomes a contradiction onto itself.

 2G (hv/cc)/cc = 2G hv/cccc.  … Lv =c, v = c/L

Thus: L = square root (2G h/ccc)

 This “L” is the Planck Length. If the graviton’s matter wave  is confined within “L”, nothing will come out…

 It goes without saying that all of this ought to be taken with a grain of salt. First of all, the real structure of elementary particles is completely unknown. 

 String theory and M theory are attempts to guess said structure. However they assumed topological properties (such as compacity, locality, separability) that basic Quantum Theory violates enthusiastically. So they miss the essence conceptually, right from the start.

 Nevertheless, the reasonings above form the core of Quantum Gravity, the first order approximation. If that has no bearing on reality, neither will the rest.

 One of the main interests of the advancement of science is that it forces us to advance and refine what we mean by reason. In a world where the survival of the many will be increasingly in question, and depends essentially upon ever mightier reason, this is of the essence.


Patrice Ayme

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16 Responses to “Photon, Graviton, Contradiction”

  1. Alexi Helligar Says:

    OK, so massive gravitons are busted, however, the Wikipedia articles state that a hypothetical graviton would be massless. Also, we can not easily dismiss the space-time deformations of massive bodies. It is these deformations that are responsible for the trajectories of photons curving back unto black holes once inside the Schwarschild Radius.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      In the conventional relativity set-up, saying gravitons go at the speed of light implies that they are massless. But that contains a non-thoroughly checked experimental hypothesis, not just facts.

      E = mcc. (Henri Poincare’, 5 years later, Einstein; in the “rest” reference frame; EE = ppcc + mm cccc, in general.) Thus as long as anything has energy it has some “mass”. That’s how MOST mass is generated, in the “Standard Model”, BTW: from relativistic kinetic energy. (The “Higgs”, the mass boson, is just an addendum.) Hence even a massless graviton is practically capable of generating a Schwarschild Radius, and of entrapping itself. Then there is the philosophical problem that mass is an experimental question. It’s not because a theory requires mass zero, that mass is zero: the theory could be false, and, or, the mass tiny.

      “Space-time deformations” are all about how light behaves. Light is the master principle. Light is used both to measure distance and time (using, well, the distance light covers, or how its frequency behaves with distance). Observed at a distance, light in a cage, is seen as slowing down in a gravitational field, and the more the field, the more the slow-down. In other words, time runs slower in a gravitational field. One gets this slowing down of time thus, from the even greater master principle of energy conservation. Black-Holing is more of the same. Basically, gravitational energy density grows with the inverse of the distance, while the energy of any “particle” (whatever “particle” means) is bounded. As the latter gets localized, the former overwhelms it. Very simple, very basic.


  2. Dominique Deux Says:

    Spanish flu occurred after WWI not WWII, killing about 50 million worldwide (more than WWI) in half the time. I always took it to be God’s response to mankind’s fit of murderous insanity, reminding it He was by far more murderous and more insane.

    I am not sure France engaged in WWII in order to fight racist fascism. Awareness of the Holocaust was not prevalent (in France and the rest of the then civilized world) before and even during the war. It was known Nazis were generally nasty to Jews, but the very extent of their nastiness could never be imagined by those (a majority) not in the know, and was not trumpeted by well-informed Allied leaders with other fish to boil (and, for some, ulterior motives). In retrospect, standing up to Nazis sounds (and is) good, but we really were fighting Germany.

    Now back to physics… where I know how to keep my mouth shut!


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Dominique: You are right. The Spanish flu started in the Middle West (id est in the USA, not Spain in 1917-1918). My paragraph was perfidious:

      May 8 as a mandatory vacation day helps to remind the young generations that for the Republic to fight racial fascism cost, over 31 years, more than four million dead, in the French empire alone. (More than 100 million, 5% of the world’s population, died, all together. More if one counts the (“Spanish“) flu epidemics that hitched a hike on the military situation

      What does that mean? It means the August 1, 1914 until May 8, 1945, was just one big, 31 year long, war against racial fascism. The invading Prussians committed, in Belgium alone, in August 1914 alone, crimes against humanity that contain all what Auschwitz became…


  3. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Dominique: About what the French Republic was fighting for: France decided Hitler was danger worth fighting against by 1934. The French gov and French intelligence had determined Hitler’s racial fascism was an ultimate danger (hence the simon warburg snafu). it was obvious after reading “Mein Kampf”.

    To boot, racial conflict with France was fully obvious in WWI and 1923.

    The German rearmement became a threat only in 1935, aftert the Hitler-UK pact.


  4. Alexi Helligar Says:

    In the equation E=mcc presented by Einstein he used m sub(0) for mass to show that he meant REST mass. Light has no rest mass but it does have momentum that comes from its wave properties. This is why I included E=pc. The usual equation for momentum is p=mv. For light momentum is p=hv and all its energy comes from its momentum, so E=hv. In the case of light you can set aside E=mcc because the m only refers to rest mass and light has no rest mass; only momentum.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      That light had momentum, E = pc was known before Einstein (thanks to Poynting). EE = ppcc + mmcccc covers it. That light has no mass remains an experimental question.


  5. Alexi Helligar Says:

    Apparently, the only experiment possible that could measure the mass of light would be one where time has stopped.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Alexi: Any experiment showing that light does not go exactly at c would be indicative of a mass. Although the CERN-Gran Sasso result was not screwed tight, literally, it’s still out there that light goes at c, or not. I don’t see what it would imply about time. OK, there would be a deviation between measured time and ideal time… But that would be dwarfed by existing (special & general) relativistic effects, which are already a major ingredient, of, say, GPS…


  6. Alexi Helligar Says:

    Alexi Helligar What are your thoughts on the hypothetical dark photons (darkino), which are anti-photons, but they are dark, massive and I would predict travel backwards in time like tachyons? The symmetry of such an idea is appealing:

    Hypothesis 1: the reverse time travel could be why dark matter and dark energy interact so weakly with ordinary matter and energy. I will assume that entropy is normal when the time arrow is flipped as there is no reason to think that it would be otherwise.

    Hypothesis 2: reverse travel in time looks like forward travel in time except for how things interact on the quantum level.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Alexi: I have studied the math of SUSY, and I have my own (iconoclast, huge time) version. However, to my regret, there is zero evidence for SUSY. So far. All the “evidence” has to do with the beauty of the thing, as a SUperSYmmetry. In a completely different realm, I do not believe in time symmetry. I suspect there is a subquantal time arrow, and it’s tied in to Dark Energy. Although this is pure speculation, the undubitable fact is that this can, but has not been studied with all the financing it deserves (it;s tied in to aging of photon and its mass; all these subjects are pretty much synonymous!)


  7. Geo Says:

    “If one plays the game above, the game Laplace first played, no graviton will be able to exit a sufficiently massive star, so the star, not only will not be seen, but not be felt. No wonder my friend got enraged” –above

    Patrice, while there are numerous puzzles in this game awaiting resolution, don’t fall for the mistake of equating the whole gravitational field with its radiation component, i.e. the graviton. This would be analogous to believing that the entire E&M field is its radiation field, which is not true at all, there is a significant static component — speaking classically just to make things easier. The virtual photons used by theorists to model the Quantum E&M field are not at all the same as the real waves and photons predicted by Hertz and used by radio and old TV antennas. Nobody knew that light was an E&M phenomenon until Hertz and others, for starters, showed that Maxwell’s equations in a vacuum (no sources, whether charges or currents)DO have a non-trivial solution — E&M waves. So they found there was much more to electricity than expected.

    The graviton arose in Gen. Rel. in a somewhat similar way. The field equations were investigated in the case of a near universal vacuum, many terms were dropped to make sense out of things, and the metric tensor, g, emerged — in the absence of matter — as having properties mathematically suggestive of a particle with 5 states of polarity, or spin 2, as Quantum theory would suggest. Thus, inspired by what they knew from decades previous with Hertz and Maxwell, theorists postulated a ‘radiation field’ as a component of the entire gravitational field. The analogy you are using would be like saying that the Coulomb attraction and repulsion of charged particles is dependent on them emitting REAL light waves, as from an antennae or accelerating charge. That is not the way it works. And there is plenty of gravitational field to go around without its speculated radiation component, the graviton. Thus black holes are ‘felt’ gravitationally, whether or not the graviton’s escape velocity makes it appear trapped. There is simply much more to the gravitational field than its radiation component.

    Regards, Geo


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Geo: First, let me say that I am (vaguely?) aware of this general objection, I have encountered it, long ago. I argued long ago, what became (I would think) the simple, common person way of describing “Hawking Radiation”: virtual pairs, one of the element of which falls into the hole, while the other is left stranded outside, making REAL radiation. Initially when I suggested this (I could not understand Hawking’s stuff), I was faced with… Well, no response. I was very young and very naive at the time.

      Philosophically, though, this indicates that all this business of virtual particles may be more real than strict formalism, QED style, indicates.

      You say:“Nobody knew that light was an E&M phenomenon until Hertz and others, for starters, showed that Maxwell’s equations in a vacuum (no sources, whether charges or currents) DO have a non-trivial solution — E&M waves. So they found there was much more to electricity than expected.”

      I don’t want to appear as escaping my responsibilities (by not defending my possibly fishy physics by talking about something else), but it seems to me that was the crowning work of Maxwell… He showed the E-M waves moved at c, so deduced (in a philosophical jump) that light was made from them.

      As far I understand the virtual particle thing, the idea is the time-energy uncertainty relation allows phenomena that do not violate it. Thus (jumping through a few equations here, for those who don’t know) a particle of zero mass has an infinite range (etc.). In other words, it seems to ME, physicists are assuming the conclusion here. They have particles as you say, virtual particles “causing” a static field because, well, they are describing a static field… Because we do NOT know, and can’t (EVER) prove that the particle has mass zero (thus showing up as a static field).

      I do understand that wiggling a static field creates a radiation component. I view the static field as a (plausible) speculation, admitted by all. I also understand that, on a transgalactic scale, the picture I present brings some sort of Dark Energy effect right out, and that the usual picture (just like mine) is pure speculation (extrapolating from known, apparently observed, things on Solar System scale).

      In gravitation theory, the static field is simply the metric tensor g, somehow generated by mass-energy. I don’t contest it does not act as described. I wonder if Newton would have given it a Celtic shrug…

      In any case, I am grateful you rolled that objection out. I have to think more about it.. I don’t know if anything I said made sense to you. I am trying to elaborate simple arguments, not moronic ones (;-)!)

      Regards to you too, and thanks for the physics lesson!


  8. Paul Handover Says:

    Just picking up on that 68th anniversary of May 8th, 1945. I was born, in London, on November 8th 1944 just 6 months to the day, as it turned out, before the end of WWII. On that May day, my mother (who is still alive) apparently looked down at me and knew that I was going to live.

    Quite a reflection on those terrible days in London.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Yes, Paul, a lot of London got flattened (and quite a bit of industrial areas in Paris). Many other European cities got completely destroyed. it’s good your Mom is still alive. Do you visit her, now that you are living in Oregon?

      My Mom is alive too, and just consented to have me fill the application to “Just Among the Nations“. She had always refused on ethical grounds, but I persuaded her that it was a bit unethical to have to hear and let it be said, that all the French were cowardly collaborators… When the truth was the other way around.

      So I was nearly not born, as my Mom, then a (resisting!) 14-16 year old child (like in the movies!) was hunted by the Gestapo (her parents too).


  9. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Geo: A reformulation of part of what I said. 113 years ago, Planck argued that energy emission by electro-magnetic radiation was quantized in a particular way. 5 years later, Einstein insisted it was all and any e-m energy transfer in the CASE OF LIGHT that was so quantized.

    You say: that’s the radiative part.

    Planck, BTW, was furious against Einstein on that particular point (although very supportive of Einstein in general!). Einstein got the Nobel for it, 91 years ago (1922).

    I give the dates, to show how violent, among well informed minds, and how recent this all was. Therefore a knowledge more brittle than commonly assumed.

    Now suppose one enters a gravitiational or electrostatic well: energy is transferred. This is used routinely by space agencies when they instrumentalize planets into slingshots.

    So there was an energy transfer.
    I say: it should be quantized, and due to the transmission of something. If that something has mass, HOWEVER SMALL, by reasoning holds.

    However small, is by definition, undetectable. Today’s physics, dubiously resting on the time-energy uncertainty says mass is actually zero. Unprovable hypothesis.


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