Photon Jealousy

Do you like to travel? To sightsee? Do you get jealous of your friends who travel to exotic places?

To make you even more jealous, just think of a photon emitted by a distant star that makes the long, long journey all the way to your eye on Earth. Think of the cool places (no pun intended) that the photon gets to see. Exotic planets. An asteroid belt. A nebula. Sadly, these are things you will never get to see in your boring Earth-bound life. But that damn, lucky photon!

When I look up at the night sky, I find it difficult to imagine what’s really going on. So my trick is, when I see a star, I imagine the (wonderful, beautiful) journey that the photons took from the star to my eye. You could even try imagining you’re riding the photon like you’re riding a horse.

(I realize this is relativistically incorrect. Einstein tells us that you can never catch up to a photon. So you should never imagine traveling along side a photon and saying “Hello Mr. Photon”. This is physically impossible. However, my blog is about mental tricks – the psychology of physical imagination. And this trick helps me appreciate outer space.)