Did you ever wonder "What the heck *is* a photon, anyway?"

Well, this question quickly gets you into pretty deep waters. Not only do you need to understand Maxwell's equations and quantum mechanics, you need to understand how they fit together into a marvelous theory called "quantum electrodynamics".

These webpages won't teach you quantum electrodynamics. But they'll give you a little nudge in the right direction.

- Introduction
- John Baez: Things that really really exist
- Michael Weiss: A trivial exercise
- Cinematic Interlude
- John Baez: A rather odd question
- John Baez: A six-step program
- John Baez: A Gaussian bump
- Michael Weiss: Hmm, homework on the weekend!
- John Baez: Ever wonder why they call it ``phase space''?
- John Baez: Perhaps the nicest Gaussian of all
- John Baez: The most enlightening set of names
- Michael Weiss: Roll over Beethoven
- John Baez: A Gaussian bump with a corkscrew twist!
- Michael Weiss: Now for a bit of straightforward grinding
- John Baez: My lysdexia has a variety of origins
- John Baez: Michael has roamed ergodically
- Michael Weiss: Okay, thanks, Baker, Campbell, and Hausdorff!
- John Baez: Messing around with the vacuum energy, eh?
- Michael Weiss: Dangerous signs of normality
- Michael Weiss: Vacuum energy, source of all of humanity's future energy needs
- John Baez: To quote a student of Segal...
- John Baez: A lower bound on slickness
- John Baez, Michael Weiss: In Boston, you should definitely concentrate on driving
- Michael Weiss: Seeing double
- John Baez: Fourier transform land ... it's much less crowded there
- Michael Weiss: Flooding the spacetime plain
- Michael Weiss: Anschaulichkeit, Abscheulichkeit
- Appendix: Notational Conventions
- Digression: Tensor product and direct sum
- About this document ...

List of Figures:

- Eigenstates of the harmonic oscillator
- Translating
*psi*to the right - A classical dot racing in a circle
- A Poisson distribution with parameter 4
- A Gaussian bump with a corkscrew twist

And guess what! The above stuff is just the *first part* of
a two-part conversation between Michael Weiss and John Baez.
The second part has not been made into webpages yet, but you can read it
as a PDF file - or as GIF
files, which are like a poor man's HTML.

- Part 1:
HTML,
PDF,
Postscript, and
LaTeX
- Part 2: PDF, Postscript, GIF, and LaTeX

The PDF and Postscript have much nicer typesetting than the HTML files.

There is also a tar file containing this entire website. If you place this in some directory and untar it there, it will create a subdirectory "photon" and put all the files there. There's also a gzipped tar file if you prefer that:

- The whole thing: tar file and gzipped tar file

Michael Weiss did the really hard work: he created the LaTeX files and turned part 1 into HTML as well. He tried converting these notes from LaTeX into HTML using latex2html, but he had problems, so the version you see is something of a compromise. Barry Brent kindly volunteered to turn part 2 into GIF format. More recently, Tiaan Geldenhuys cleaned up the figures and included them in the LaTeX files.

© 2005 John Baez and Michael Weiss

baez@math.removethis.ucr.andthis.edu