"Rudolph the Bright Red Photon", words by Walter F. Smith, 11-5-05

(sung to “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer", tune by Johnny Marks, words by Robert May)

Click here to play tune in the background

You know Ampere, and Kirchoff, and Bunsen, and Maxwell,
Fraunhofer, Faraday, they knew their facts well!
But do you recall... the most famous discovery of all?

Rudolph the bright red photon
Had momentum h-bar k,
But if you ever saw him,
He'd collapse his state they say.
Michelson interference
Used to make him scratch his head --
"Should I take this or that path?
Maybe I'll take both instead!"

To avoid catastrophe,
Max Planck had to say,
"Ho Ho Ho --
Quantize energy of light --
h times nu will work just right!"

Later, in 1913,
Niels Bohr shouted out with glee,
"Photons can cause transitions --
Give that Nobel Prize to me!"

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Disclaimer: Really, one photon can't be "bright", since brightness refers to intensity of light, which depends on the number of photons per second, rather than the properties of any one photon. Learn more about photons here.

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