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So you thought you were forever alone? Meet Photon, The Loneliest Particle in the Universe. Feel free to click that link if you want to read a short story about this topic.

Some of you might know about time dilation (most of you, hopefully). Basically, as you approach light speed (denoted by the constant c) time slows. If you reach time is frozen (from your perspective). Perspectives are a huge part of science and relate to a lot of really interesting theories, some of which I will make separate posts about. For now, though:

So, let’s introduce our forever alone particle, Mr. Photon. Photons are the particle associated with light (and electromagnetic radiation). Since, for all intents and purposes, a photon is light, they travel at c. That means time never passes for a photon.

From the moment a photon is emitted, it is frozen for all eternity in that very same moment. Time doesn’t pass for it, and from its point of view, it never travels. If that last bit was confusing, remember what I said about perspectives. Travelling implies speed, which implies distance covered over a period of time.

Even if it moves from one side of the universe to the other, the photon will always be entirely alone, frozen in the moment it was born.

And you thought you were lonely.

Reductionists, theists and ignorant people (these don’t necessarily exclude each other) often argue that science is unemotional, destroying of hope and a bleak outlook on life. I’ve always argued the exact opposite. There is very little in the world that can be as poetically melancholy as what I have just described, and photons are really just the tip of the iceberg.

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