Looming Matter With Light

“When light collides with other light, it can transform into particles of matter,” science writer Corey S. Powell posted on Twitter the other day. He was referring to recent evidence from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider that “pairs of electrons and positrons—particles of matter and antimatter—can be created directly by colliding very energetic photons.” In other words, the “conversion of energetic light into matter” might be physically achievable: you can create matter with light.

I am in no position to comment on the science of this beyond the sheer poetry of the description; if you want to learn more about the actual experiment, I’d strongly advise going to the source material, not to BLDGBLOG. But so many metaphors come to mind here—precipitation and snow; depositional 3D printing; shining looms of light, bringing matter into the cosmos.

Imagine an industrial printing facility of the far future whose only input is light. Factories of weird mirrored rooms where objects flash into existence one at a time, in a new manufacturing process extruding matter from illumination.

In any case, I was also reminded of a piece published in Nature back in 2011: “Moving mirrors make light from nothing.”

The hypothesis there was that a single mirror “moving through a vacuum at nearly the speed of light” could, through something called the Casimir force, actually generate photons—the mirror could create light. This was apparently given experimental support when “a shower of microwave photons [was] shaken loose from the vacuum” by a highly sensitive superconducting device known as a SQUID.

The scientist behind that experiment now “hopes to see a moving piece of metal generate detectable light from the vacuum,” as if farming light from nothingness, coaxing photons into appearing like seeds, shaking them loose from the void.

Mirrors moving through darkness at the speed of light can create light—the sheer poetry of this is just astonishing to me, like a statement from the Gnostic Gospels.

Anyway, now put these two experiments together: use a moving mirror to pull light from darkness, then collide that light back into itself to generate matter. You could design a kind of internal combustion engine made of moving mirrors, turning darkness into light into matter.

Again, though, read the original articles if you prefer science over speculation.

7 thoughts on “Looming Matter With Light”

  1. “Imagine an industrial printing facility of the far future whose only input is light. Factories of weird mirrored rooms where objects flash into existence one at a time, in a new manufacturing process extruding matter from illumination.”

    Beautiful idea!
    If you don’t mind I might just borrow this in a future book.


  2. What’s the difference? One is convertable to the other, e.g. electron + positron to light, so they’re the same. Of course you can make one from the other.

    Lets suppose the following:

    You have an oscillating field over which light is doing a waddle, lets call that waddle an F1 mode waddle. That’s how it moves, a slight departure from perfect resonance that looks like a waddle if you map it over 3d space.
    You have stable ‘mass’ particles that have no net movement, they don’t move, they perform nPrime multiples of F1 , e.g F2, electron takes two F1 oscillations to return to its same place, F3, proton takes 3 and so on.
    You have near stable particles that repeat at nNonPrime intervals and will ultimately break down to nPrimes.

    So all your matter is now just light, the only difference is one is moving in a repeating pattern, and returning to the same place, and only the F1 mode cannot return to the same place and thus is not matter but light.

    F1 is very very close to resonance with that field, like 10^-30 close. Light.
    F2 is a really simple forwards backwards motion. Add a -ve monopole to that, a massless sizeless -ve monopole , and its counter phase, F2′, and you have an electron {F2 -ve F2′}. Very little energy (mass) because its very close to the resonance of the field, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, with only the -ve monpole stopping it collapsing to 2xF1s, now your F2 is moving like an F1, it it a photon.
    F3 that’s doing an almighty jig to return to the same positon after 3 oscillations.

    View these systems with an {F2 -ve F2′} electron and now you have confusing half twists but that’s because you’re viewing an *oscillating* system from an *oscillating* system.
    All those apparent backwards time travelling particles, all akin to the wheels of bike viewed through a shutter.

    Electric, from electrons, is an *oscillating* force.

    View light with an electron and you get the difference between its F1 component and lights F1. That’s not its actual wavelength or actual frequency, its the net effect of one on the other.

    You never really see a particle, you see the net effect its oscillating pattern has on the observers oscillating field.

    The only difference between matter and light is light is a near F1 mode oscillation, and its the only nPrime number that cannot repeat, it cannot return to its original position, its the one and only prime that traverses space.

    So yeh, take two F1s and make some F2 material with it.

    Measure the speed of light using matter, both in the same oscillating field and you always get the same result, indicating the two things are related, the two forms of motion are related. Those motions at the subatomic level, the motions of light, same mechanism.

    Clumping effects, everything from how an electron pair hold together (f2 -ve f2′) to crystals formation to gravity, to how a photo travels across the universe, and yet can be divided on arrival, …. all trivial to model.

    The above is not science, just a data crunched model that has a flaw in it.

    Geoff, can I point you to Thomas Buchert’s estimate of how finite the universe is, its an interesting rabbit hole if you want to go down there.

    1. Geoff, I recommended Buchert’s “finite universe model” to you, because I was hoping you’d spot the obvious.

      i.e. any non-zero bend in space means light must wrap around eventually and return to the same place. Non-zero bends in space *have* been observed (e.g. gravitational lensing around a black hole), so the Universe *must* be finite. Buchert tried to estimate the maximum size of such a finite universe, and came up with 5x the observable universe (which is also finite).

      So what is the obvious thing I was hoping you’d realize?

      A universe: light trapped in a region of bent space.
      A black hole: light trapped in a region of bent space.


      We are inside a black-hole.

      You just need to understand why you can nest black holes, hence a bit of electric model was needed to prep you.

      Buchert made his universe donut shaped (because it keeps the 3 dimensions independent) but that would not work as soon as you put in black holes. Those dimensions are not independent. The finite *observable* universe *is* the finite universe, not 5x the size.

      So, see that star to your left? See that star to your right? They could be the *same* star. Two different curved paths to the same star. Because you perceive light to be travelling in a straight line, you perceive the stars as separate.

      So actually, the number of stars of the universe is far smaller than even the *observable* number of stars. You observe the same stars multiple times.

      And since these stars (in the above example) cannot be moving further apart (they are the same star), then the universe cannot be expanding. Our local space must be getting compressed faster than remote space, which we perceive as the universe expanding and our local space as being ‘stable’.

      We are inside a black hole being sucked into another local black hole, and imagining our universe as if we are safe in a stable, steady, unbent, 3 dimensional universe.

      We’ve made God in our own image and now we’ve made the Universe in our own image too!

      And that’s just the less weird parts you realize when playing with that electric model.

      1. It’s hard to imagine demonstrating this, experimentally, but it’s a provocative idea, for sure. Nested halls of mirrors. There’s a Japanese short story I read once about a man who gets trapped inside a spherical mirror—basically a large ball with a mirrored interior—and he’s driven insane by the experience. Scaling that up to cosmic heights would be something else entirely.

      2. One obvious difference is that an observer in a black hole sees the distant universe blue shifted while an observer in our universe sees the distant universe as red shifted. I still think the idea that we are in a black hole may prove useful, but it’s hard to reconcile the red shift / blue shift thing.

  3. Fascinating! Our universe as a nested black hole as a ball with a mirrored interior takes on a different aspect when considered through the lens (or mirror) of Bostrom’s Simulation Hypothesis. Put differently: if we live within the simulation of a real universe, then we live in both reality and unreality. We who cast the images in the mirror are real; the mirrors are real; but the images aren’t. Is this what Paul meant when he said, “For now we see through a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Paul did, after all, on the road to Damascus, come face to face with the simulation’s creator in a great blaze of light. But why? Why all of this?

  4. The guy who taught me physics 101, David Pritchard, did a lot of research on the light-matter duality. He wrote an article in Scientific American on his research working with matter as a wave. One amazing thing was that he was able to use a lens made of standing light waves to focus matter waves. Mass and energy really are the same, and they’re all about wave functions. Physicists took the red pill back in the 1920s when they accepted that particles are an illusion.

    P.S. It would be great to manufacture objects by using powerful light beams to conjure up matter, but E=mc^2, and c^2 is pretty big, so you’d need a pretty powerful laser or something to produce a useful object.

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