Light to Matter: Whatever Came of the Photon-Photon Collider Experiment?
If you follow Physicist David Bohm’s research on the holographic model, you may be interested in learning that scientists are currently working on a formula that will be able to do just that. Back in 2014, researchers announced that they had discovered a way to convert light into matter by making two photons collide; producing two positron-electron pairs. It was said to be a physical manifestation of Einstein’s theory of relativity, which states that an object’s mass is also a measure of its stored energy.
The theory on how to convert light into matter was devised in 1934 by physicists at New York University, Gregory Breit, and John A. Wheeler. At the time, technology wasn’t available for them to put their theory into practice, but that has changed. In 2014, scientists from Imperial College of London had stumbled on a method that would demonstrate Wheeler and Breit’s theory. The report was published in April, 2014 in Nature Photonics.
While claiming that it could be done within a year, the question now becomes; “Did they actually do it?”?
The fact is, nothing has been reported about it publicly since it first made headlines in 2014. Science of Singularity reported on it as if it was a “new information” in March of this year, otherwise, nothing has come of those claims since then. If something did come of it, it hasn’t been published yet. The feat of being able to observe the phenomenon with this new experiment method keeps me following this.
The concept is still an interesting one, since much science fiction involves doing just that. Think of the holodeck used in the Star Trek series. The process of turning light into matter would work like this: a powerful laser would be used to speed up the electrons to the speed of light, and then be fired at a slab of gold. This would create a beam of photons that are billion times more powerful than visible light. The high energy laser would then be fired at a hohlraum (empty room) producing light as bright as those emitted by stars. Then the beam of photons created in step 2 is aimed at the hohlraum where the two streams would collide. This process forms the electrons and positrons. The device that would create this collision is called a photon-photon collider.
Oliver Pike, the lead researcher on the study, said the process was one of the most elegant demonstrations of Einstein’s famous relationship that shows matter and energy are interchangeable currencies. “The Breit-Wheeler process is the simplest way matter can be made from light and one of the purest demonstrations of E=mc2,” he said.
What this means for Bohm’s Holographic universe
If scientists have actually accomplished the feat of turning light into matter, they have not announced it yet. However, the idea of it makes me wonder what that may mean in proving the holographic universe’s potential. The holographic universe, by physicist David Bohm, postulates that the universe is a hologram that each piece of the universe is part of an interconnected whole. If you know how holograms work, it seems unlikely at first glance, since we view certain aspects of our universe as comprised of solid matter. Since holograms are comprised of light, and imaging; this seems impossible at first glance. It implies the creation of ‘something’ from nothing.
If scientists were able to successfully convert light into matter, Bohm’s research may get an unexpected boost. It is important to note that light has been converted to matter before. In 1997, Stanford’s linear collider was used to get large amounts of photons to interact with one another with the help of an electron beam and an electric field that provided researchers with the energy they needed to get the photons to produce matter particles. What makes this new research so much more interesting, is that the Imperial team in London will use the energy of the colliding photons themselves. It will also mark the first time that scientists can conduct this experiment in a total vacuum.
“The idea of creating a photon-photon collider is one that has long interested physicists,” said the project’s lead researcher, Oliver Pike in an interview with Popular Science back in 2014. “Many different particles can be produced in photon collisions, so such a collider could potentially be used to study fundamental physics with a very clean experimental approach. [It] could be used as an antimatter source—useful in PET scanning, for example—as equal numbers of electrons and positrons are formed, but there are much easier and more efficient ways of creating antimatter than this. Applications [of the process] may arise in the future, but at the moment, the main draw of this experiment is certainly academic: observing a very simple process for the first time.”
The idea of turning light into matter is obviously not new, but so far, nothing has been printed publicly that would state if those 2014 experiments were successful or not. It also does nothing to allow the public to know what they are doing with it, if they have. Previous experiments attempting to do the same did not allow for the results to be observed, which is why the photon-photon collider experiment is so significant. If those experiments were successful, it stands to reason that scientists would want to manipulate any matter potentially created once the observation period was concluded. Who knows, perhaps holodecks are already being devised, and we common folks just aren’t aware of it.