Part I: Planck constant called into action or called into question?

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Credit: TCD-CRANN  A new type of light possibly giving rise to a new understanding of the light spectrum.

Redefining light

BY BRUCE CAMBER  Initiated: 1 October 2018

Background: While working to outline the universe within just 202 successive doublings from the Planck base units to the Age of our Universe, a very simple part of Max Planck’s formulas for Planck Time jumped off the page.


The formula: Planck Length divided by Planck Time equals light (c). The actual result is 299,792,437.991 meters per second. The generally-accepted experimental value is 299,792,458 meters per second in a vacuum.

If we take Planck Time, 5.391 16(13)×10-44 seconds,  and double it, and double each result 143 times, the value is .60116 seconds.  The 144th doubling is, of course, 1.2023 seconds. Between the two, the universe is just one second old. It is hard to conceive, but from the 143rd notation to the 202nd notation the universe expands to its current size and 13.8± billion years.

In 2011 we began batting around some of these figures to explore Planck’s Length. Finally, in 2014 we added Planck Time and in 2015, the Planck Charge and Planck Mass. A horizontally-scrolled chart with simple calculations for all the Planck base units emerged in 2016. Our first analysis of the formula (above) — December 22, 2016 — raised questions. And then, to attempt to go further, in September 2018, a letter about those questions was sent to several scholars.


Introduction. Most of us do not quibble with the current scientific understanding of light.
And, most of us seem quite comfortable at least to know what we know about visible light. Yet, when pushed just a little, we readily admit our knowledge is weak and incomplete. When we lack basic information, and sometimes even harbor the wrong information, our insights and wisdom remain shallow, curiosity gets dulled, and our ability to integrate concepts grows weaker.

Nobody told us, “This is important. You need to know this.” Within that context and perspective, this article is taking shape.

Can we see light like a scientist then go deeper-wider-higher?
We need to know the entire electromagnetic spectrum to be able to understand what our scientists are doing and what their progress has been. For example, we are doing extraordinary things with lasers, yet most of us haven’t a clue how one works and where it is on this spectrum on the right.

And isn’t it peculiar, with all our sophistication, and knowledge, we always seem to have more problems than solutions. Yes, and when we do find a solution to a problem,  even more problems seem to be created.

Something is wrong. Throughout the world, we are all tensed up within our unknowing. And then, within this little site, off in a little corner of the web, we have a formula for light developed by Max Planck in 1899 and the scientific community isn’t truly aware of that formula or its basic-basic relation with light.

It appears from here that there is much more to learn about light and its deeper relation to the Planck base units.

To wrestle with the this particular issue, I have begun looking for the very edge of our theoretical knowledge. Also, I started looking for the limits of our practical knowledge.

In that survey of current research about light, I found a team in Dublin, Ireland, three scientists who believe that they have defined a new kind of light. I thought, “They should know something about the very nature of light!”

Thesis: “The Planck Constant sets the scale of quantum effects. “

2016, Dublin, Ireland: Research scientists (scholars) at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) School of Physics and their Centre for Research on Advanced Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) have discovered a new form of light.1 They explain, “Within all forms of light, the angular momentum is a multiple of Planck’s constant and an unexpected half-integer total angular momentum can arise for light.”

Now, that’s a mouthful; and I’ll be the first to admit, it is also something I didn’t know and do not understand. To attempt to get a more visceral sense of that sentence highlighted above in yellow, I first turned to all the writings of the three authors of this research paper. Then, I began to focus on what appears to be their pivotal concept that “multiples of Planck’s constant sets the scale of quantum effects.”

John Donegan
Univ. Dublin

These people are practical. The senior researcher on this University of Dublin, TCD project, is Professor John F. Donegan (TCD-CRANN). Quite confident of its future applications, he said, “Our discovery will have real impacts for the study of light waves in areas such as secure optical communications.”2

Paul R. Eastham, another professor on this project and the designated corresponding author, went further. He said, “We’re interested in finding out how we can change the way light behaves, and how that could be useful. What I think is so exciting about this result is that even this fundamental property of light3, that physicists have always thought was fixed, can be changed.” Questions readily bubbled up: Which property of light is being manipulated? How many properties of light are there? Is it true over the entire spectrum of visible light? …as well as the entire electromagnetic spectrum?

The third team member, Kyle E Ballantine, a doctoral candidate at the time of this research, is given much of the credit for performing the calculations and experiments, and for analyzing the data. Where Eastham devised and supervised the project with Donegan, all three discussed the results and contributed to writing the report.

What happens between asking the initial question to devising and carrying out an experiment, analysing the data, to the writing up the results and conclusions, and then to submitting an article for publication?  What can we learn about the people and their conclusions? What are their presuppositions? What questions have been overlooked?

For example, where along the electromagnetic scale does this unexpected half-integer total angular momentum arise for light? Is it along the entire scale? Is it just within that narrow range of visible light? Is it within an even more narrow range within visible light? What kind of image can be associated with it, and with time to reflect on it, what more can be said about the results?

Within the introduction to this research, substantial claims are made:

  • Angular momentum effects are also emerging in the radio-frequency domain, for applications in astronomy and communications.4
  • Fundamental interest focuses on optical angular momentum in the quantum regime 5
  • The angular momentum of single photons has been measured 6
  • Entanglement 7 and Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen correlations 8 have been studied. This unique degree of freedom provides a basis for quantum information applications, with high-dimensional entanglement 9
  • Quantum dense coding 10, and efficient object identification 11 demonstrated.

A goal, as a result of initiating this project, will be to find experts who can examine each of these claims. Given that we have asked some of the finest scholars throughout the world questions about this critical domain of study, it will be an education unto itself to hear what they say about these conclusions just above.

Please note on May 24, 2021: This page is still under construction. It was started in September 2018. It was actively being updated through Wednesday, October 24, 2018. It will continue to be reviewed and possibly updated.

Endnotes, Footnotes, References and Resources

1 The formal report in the AAAS Science Advances (2016). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501748 was the second reading about this work. It was found by doing a search, “fundamental nature of light” + Planck, which opened a link to, “Physicists discover a new form of light” and there was a link to Science Advances paper.

2 A note of thanks to Prof. Dr. John Donegan for his work and leadership, evocative comments were made to reflect on the appropriateness of an image that has been associated with the project:

3 The first email to Prof. Dr. Paul Eastham, the hope is to open dialogue that causes more clarifications about the nature of light at the Planck scale.

Please note: The following references will be studied further and these footnotes will be completed hopefully by the end of the month of October 2018. The links embedded with each cited above goes to the original references in their TCD article. As a sample, the references for the fourth footnote follows.

4 All the references within the footnotes of the AAAS Science Advances article will be studied. So for this footnote #3, the paper, “Utilization of photon orbital angular momentum in the low-frequency radio domain” from the Phys. Rev. Lett., 087701 (2007) will be researched and each of the additional external references such as  CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar

There are also other discussions that will be collected and studied. For example, Sofia D. Wechsler of the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology asked a question about this research and a response from an Iraqi professor was interesting:  This work was found within ResearchGate.

More to come…

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