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Perspective: The Life of a Photon

We humans tend to behave as if we have all the time in the world, as if we will live forever. As a result, it is important to gain some perspective on occasion.

In today’s entry, we will see things from the perspective of a photon.

A photon is a piece of energy that has no mass. It acts like a particle, has momentum, and travels at the speed of light.

The light that illuminates our planet, warms the planet, and feeds plants is nothing more than a stream of energy packets called photons.

Photons are generated in the core of the sun. However, they do not escape from the sun right away, due to the strength of the sun core’s gravity.

By way of comparison, the core of the Earth is about 2.5 years younger than the outer crust. As for the sun, the core is 39,000 years younger than the outer area. Time struggles to crawl in this gravitational area.

The photons struggle to escape the core. In the process, they end up bouncing off one another. But eventually, after 170,000 years, the photon is free and is ejected into space at the speed of light.

From there, it takes the photon 8.3 minutes to reach Earth. Once it reaches us, it serve a few purposes. It will warm the surface, provide light, and provide food for plants via photosynthesis.

However, most photons will not reach Earth, as they are flying out from all directions from the globular sun. Those photons just fly out into space.

Many of these photons will not strike anything.

Consider a chunk of space that is 2,300 cubic light years in size. On average, one can find ONLY ONE STAR in this area. A mass of space that is 1 billion cubic light year in size will contain approximately 40% of a galaxy.

So these photons fly, and fly, and fly. They can do so for approximately 25 quadrillion years. After that, the photon loses its power and it dies.

The thing that blows my mind about all of this is the fact that photons DO NOT experience time. So far as these energy packets are concerned, they might exist only for a fraction of a second.

Conversely, we believe that we exist for years, or even decades.

Unlike photons, we experience time, and it changes based on the mood or situation.

When we are about to have a car accident, for example, time will suddenly move in slow motion. We will look around, and our brains will engage in a way where “our lives flash before our eyes,” in an effort to locate a previous solution to the problem.

When we go on a vacation for two weeks, it will feel like it lasted only a day. Then the first 8-hour work day after vacation will feel like two weeks.

Time is a human construct that we created to measure progress. A day is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to complete one revolution on its axis. A month is how long it takes the Moon to have one full revolution. A year is the amount of time it takes the Earth to completely one revolution around the Sun.

Sometime we get wrapped up in it. Other times we lose track of it. Sometimes we worry about it as we are “running late” for work. Sometimes it becomes urgent when we are having a medical issue. And sometimes it can seemingly drag on forever and ever.

All of this happens in our minds. And all the while, the second hand on the clock keeps perfect time, never speeding up or slowing down.


You might have the time today. It is also possible that you may have significantly less time than you believe.

Or maybe you just are, and time is of relatively little value.

But time isn’t the only illusion. I may write about those in separate entries.

That is, if I can find the time.

If you like what I write, then please consider sending a one-time donation to me via PayPal. Please use the following link and click SEND to donate, and thank you for reading!


Published by DrumWild

Writing about drums, music, and philosophy.

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