Must the Photon Mass Be Zero?

Discussion of Paper by L. Bass and E. Schrödinger
  • E. P. Wigner
Part of the The Scientific Papers book series (WIGNER, volume A / 3)


The hold query concerning longitudinal waves, which already beset the elastic theory of light, has in our day revived in the form expressed in the title. Maxwell’s field laws are a singular limiting case in that they admit but transversal waves. If this held only in however close an approximation, some fundamental laws of radiation would seem to be affected by a factor 3/2, on account of the «third degree of freedom» a. If so, this would render even ‘Maxwell’s theory suspect, for we are loath to accept as an adequate description of nature a limiting case whose predictions differ grossly and discontinuously from those reached by a sufficiently close approach to the limit. We show here in the simple, if fictitious, example of an ideal conductor, that by extending Proca’s field equations in a plausible fashion to the interior of matter the discontinuity is avoided and the correct factors (not 3/2 thereof) are already reached with a rest-mass at the upper limit, imposed anyhow by other well-known considerations.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

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  • E. P. Wigner

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