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Author Topic: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?  (Read 2560 times)

Offline thedoc

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Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« on: 14/12/2013 04:30:01 »
Stephen Goodfellow  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
I wish to place a (US)$15,000 reward to any garage scientist(s) who can demonstrate that a powerful electrical discharge does, or does not, alter the path of a photon emitted from a laser directed at an interferometer.

According to present theory, this ought to produce a null result; only a gravitational imposition would be able to shift the path of a photon of light. We know that gas, liquid and solid gravitationally attract according to their quantity, but to the best of my knowledge no one has measured the gravitational potential of the fourth state of matter, a high energy plasma. For all we know, it may induce gravity without a corresponding quantity of mass.

The moment of electrical discharge when the electrons and protons briefly perform their complex interaction, remain an unobserved and unresolved mystery.

A simple outline sketch of the experiment, I would propose a laser placed at a distance, so there is no environment interference from the electrical discharge, such as shock displacement. Passing the electrical discharge, the laser photons should cover a similar distance to an interferometer target in order to amplify any deviation caused by the discharge.

I am willing to place the funds in an escrow account, the qualitative judgment of the experiment to be determined by a qualified third party. Please let me know if there is someone out there up to the challenge.

Sincerely,

Stephen Goodfellow.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 14/12/2013 04:30:01 by _system »


 

Offline RD

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Re: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« Reply #1 on: 14/12/2013 06:33:46 »
You may want to include the condition "photon path in a vacuum" , rather than photon path through matter.

An electric field could locally change the properties of the matter the light was passing through to bend path of the photon.

e.g http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/atomic/stark.html


If an electric field in a vaccum could bend the path of a photon then the very strong electric fields at Jupiter's poles would warp the apparent position of background stars more than predicted by relativity .

Quote from: harvard.edu Jupiter
Electric voltages of about 10 million volts, and currents of 10 million amps - a hundred times greater than the most powerful lightning bolts - are required to explain the auroras, which are a thousand times more powerful than those on Earth.
http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2005/jupiter/
« Last Edit: 14/12/2013 07:13:16 by RD »
 

Offline CPT ArkAngel

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Re: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« Reply #2 on: 14/12/2013 08:27:12 »
The Stark Effect doesn't bend the path of photons but splits the energy transitions of atoms and molecules. So it changes the frequencies, not the path.

In my knowledge, a static electrical field has no influence on the path of a photon.

 

Offline CPT ArkAngel

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Re: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« Reply #3 on: 14/12/2013 08:47:20 »
An electric discharge is a flow of electrons and it can changes the path of photons.

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/quantum/compton.html
 

Offline RD

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Re: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« Reply #4 on: 14/12/2013 08:51:53 »
The Stark Effect doesn't bend the path of photons but splits the energy transitions of atoms and molecules. So it changes the frequencies, not the path.

Stark-effect can change the refractive index of the medium the light is travelling through,
a local change in the refractive index would bend the light ray.
« Last Edit: 14/12/2013 08:59:07 by RD »
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« Reply #5 on: 14/12/2013 12:38:53 »

If an electric field in a vaccum could bend the path of a photon then the very strong electric fields at Jupiter's poles would warp the apparent position of background stars more than predicted by relativity .

Quote from: harvard.edu Jupiter
Electric voltages of about 10 million volts, and currents of 10 million amps - a hundred times greater than the most powerful lightning bolts - are required to explain the auroras, which are a thousand times more powerful than those on Earth.
http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2005/jupiter/


That seems a pretty strong indication to me RD. That light doesn't 'bend' due to EM fields. But then you refer to the refractive index and say that it can? What about the EM fields in a mirror :) ahhh this is a dangerous place to be..
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« Reply #6 on: 14/12/2013 13:11:54 »
Some years ago I did some holography in my basement. The laser was weak and so the exposure times were of the order of a few seconds.
Here on Earth there are lightning strikes about 40 times per second, so during the exposure, hundreds of electrical discharges took place.

The holograms worked.

I therefore demonstrated that - at least for plasma that is fairly distant from the path of the laser (of the order of millions of metres) , there is no observable effect. (i.e. the effect on the effective path length is less than about 1/4 of the wavelength over a distance of a few tens of centimetres.)

Can I claim the money?

More seriously, how close to the light path does the plasma need to be, in order to count as part of this experiment?
Most plasmas are rather opaque to visible light so the laser can't go through the plasma.

Would passing a laser beam along the axis of this sort of thing
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SPIRAL-Strobe-xenon-flash-tube-lamp-flicker-party-flash-/110632991470
 when it was fired count as an experiment?


 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« Reply #7 on: 14/12/2013 13:23:27 »
Challenge accepted, subject to two conditions:

1. Mutually agreed definition of "electrical discharge"

2. Mutually agreed value of "zero" i.e. the minimum deflection to be detected (or not) to claim the prize.
 

Offline RD

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Re: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« Reply #8 on: 14/12/2013 13:59:03 »
That seems a pretty strong indication to me RD. That light doesn't 'bend' due to EM fields. But then you refer to the refractive index and say that it can?

The refractive index is only relevant if the light is travelling through matter, not through the vacuum of space.
Hence my suggestion for the "photo path in a vacuum" condition in the terms of the challenge.
« Last Edit: 14/12/2013 14:03:28 by RD »
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« Reply #9 on: 14/12/2013 17:36:12 »
Thanks for clearing that up RD :)
What confused me slightly was the thoughts on duality in this thread.
Made me wonder if one could imagine a way to 'deflect' a path, by treating it one way or the other in a 'weak experiment' (repeating 'identical experiments' and measuring a 'path' through this). And so stating that you can 'bend' light in a EM field. I mean, what's giving us the experience of 'gravity' isn't 'gravity', but EM fields between matter, as I gather. It depends on how one define densities. Like if a vacuum can be described as a density.
 

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Re: Does an electrical discharge alter photon paths?
« Reply #9 on: 14/12/2013 17:36:12 »

 

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