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The Photon Sector

Abstract
In the folklore is a well-known non-existence theorem for the photon position operator. The nature of this result is
that non-existence is only in the same sense that spherical coordinates do not exist for the sphere. In fact, the
Darboux Theorem always guarantees the local existence of such coordinates; and the existence of an atlas of charts,
each parametrized by such coordinates (and for photons, like spheres, only 2 charts are needed, though we will not
prove this here.)

These are some notes I wrote up on the symplectic representation class Ive termed the helical luxons, or helion for
short. This is the sector that includes the photons, but not the other luxons the luxons with continuous spin
(a.k.a.cylindrical luxons). Its distinguishing feature is that the helicity (i.e. component of angular momentum parallel
to its momentum) is an invariant. Like the spin 0 case, there are 3 pairs of complimentary coordinates, as there are for
the corresponding Heisenberg relations

The complementarity relations for the photon are developed within a unified framework that encompasses both
classical and quantum theory, and both non-relativistic and relativistic theory. The analysis is extended to the non-
relativistic domain, deriving the complementarity relations for the helical synchron the non-relativistic analogue of
the photon. As has been noted elsewhere (LNP 188, section 5.6) the symplectic representation of photons and the
situation that arises with its coordinates is, in fact, quite analogous to what happens with the magnetic monopole.

A more comprehensive analysis that includes the symplectic classes corresponding to all the inhomogeneous
representations, in both the relativistic and non-relativistic settings, will be added later.

Mark Hopkins

1. Introduction
The unified framework for space-time symmetry that combines the Galilei (and Bargmann), Poincar and the 4-D
Euclidean group is centered on a 1-parameter family of symmetry groups, where the parameter is positive (and
equal to
2
1 c ) for Poincar symmetry, zero for the Galilei and Bargmann groups, negative for the 4-D Euclidean
groups.

Each group is generated by a basis consisting of the vector-valued basis elements , , J K P respectively for spatial
rotations, boosts and spatial translations; and the scalar-valued basis elements , H M respectively for time translation
and an additional degree of translation that is naturally associated with a 5
th
dimension in a spacetime with a de Sitter
signature. By virtue of a linear invariant (a.k.a. central charge) M H , the groups may be viewed as a central
extensions of a 10-dimensional symmetry group that is more directly identified with the 4-D space(-times) associated
with the sign of . In particular, for 0 > , the symmetry group is not the Poincar group, but its (trivial) central
extension.

The Lie algebras corresponding to the Lie groups may all be embedded in a Poisson manifold with the following
fundamental Poisson bracket relation:

{ } ( ) ( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( )
,
, .
M
H H
= + + + +
+ +
= + + + = + + +
J K P
P
J K P J K P

The linear function is conventionally interpreted as a combination of infinitesimal generators for rotations ,
boosts , spatial translations and time translations . Since is a central charge, the generator has no effect.

Associated with is an infinitesimal transformation { } ,

(or for brevity) for non-linear functions


of the basis elements. In the simplest case, we have the transformation for the basis elements themselves, e.g.
{ } , = P P :
, , , , . M M H M = + + = + = = = J J K P K K J P P P P P

A function is deemed (locally) invariant if it has zero Poisson brackets; i.e. if 0

= for all . There are 3


invariants associated with the symmetry group. In addition to the linear invariant , we also have:

2 2 2 2
0
, 2 , W W P MH H +
where

0
, , M W + = W J P K P K
are the components of a 4-vector that, for the Poincar sector 0 > , may be identified with the Pauli-Lubanski vector.
For 0 , we will continue to refer to ( )
0
, W W as the Pauli-Lubanski vector.

Each configuration of the invariants { } , , identifies an 8-dimensional submanifold of the underlying Poisson
manifold. Since the underlying Poisson manifold is not regular, then for special values, further invariants may arise.
When all the invariants have been taken into account for all the special configurations, the result is a classification of
the symplectic leaves of the Poisson manifold, each one identifying an elementary physical system in the same way that
irreducible representations do with Lie groups.

Each point on the manifold lies on a unique symplectic leaf that is given as the locus of all transformations generated
by

, for each . When the basis elements { } , , , , H M J K P are thought of as coordinates of the underlying
manifold, rather than as Lie algebra basis elements, then the result is that we are tracing out the coadjoint orbits of the
dual to the Lie algebra.

2. A Unified Framework for Relativistic and Non-Relativistic Theory
By way of this framework, which is cast in the language of Poisson manifolds, symplectic leaves and coadjoint orbits
we have a framework that is amenable to geometric quantization. But more importantly, what we also have is a
paradigm-neutral framework that works equally well with systems that are purely classical, purely quantum and hybrid
(i.e. systems whose C*-algebras of observables respectively (a) are commutative, (b) non-commutative with a trivial
center, and (c) non-commutative with a non-trivial center).

In addition, by casting everything in the language of Poisson manifolds, and by keeping the central charges intact
(whether trivial or not) we can combine all the Lie groups (and their representations) into a single structure: a unified
Poisson manifold that contains all the Lie algebras as subalgebras.

Speaking in general terms, a unification should accomplish two tasks: (1) to provide a single framework that
simultaneously subsumes that which is being unified (meaning all of the qualitative features of each paradigm being
unified, not just some of them), while (2) presenting emergent features that are absent in what is being unified, but
which emerge as a non-trvial consequence of the unification. Schematically, if A and B are the two older frameworks
undergoing unification, respectively characterized by the conditions 0 a = and 0 b = , then the simplest way an
emergent feature may arise is as a feature controlled by the condition 0 ab .

In non-relativistic theory, the formulae for energy H , mass M and momntum P :

2
1
, , ,
2
H mv U m M m = + = = P v
for a system with mass m, velocity v and internal energy U yield invariants 2mU = and m = . In relativity, a
system with rest mass m and velocity v possesses total energy E and momentum P given respectively by

2 2
, .
1 1
m m
E
v v
= =

v
P
Within the unified framework, the total energy E is replaced by the kinetic energy H and the invariant mass m = ,
and the relativistic mass M E = , with the resulting reduction:

2
2 2 2
, ,
1 1 1 1
m v m
H M
v v v
= =
+

which has a more direct, intuitive connection with the corresponding non-relativistic formulae. The point of departure
represented by the unification is to separate back out what had been formerly combined after 1905: mass and energy.
Though the transformations given by the Poisson bracket relations still involve an intermixing of the mass and energy
with infinitesimal boosts given by:
, , , H M M = = = P P P
this does not necessarily entail the identification of mass and energy. We regard this as the central error committed in
the earliest days of the emergence of the post-1905 paradigm. Just because two things intermix does not mean they are
one and the same thing!

Rather, what the Poisson bracket relation entails for both the relativistic and non-relativistic cases, is the emergence
of a 5-vector for mass, energy and momentum. This feature is obscured, in the relativistic setting, by the fact that the
Poincar group possesses only trivial central extensions which (in turn) entails that the 5 vector representation is
reducible to a 4-vector and scalar representation. Nonetheless, in order for there to be a consistent unificaation that
encompasses both the relativistic and non-relativistic paradigms, we must treat the trivial central extension as
physically non-trivial.

The invariants associated with the relativistic formulae for the 5-vector ( ) , , H M P are 0 = and m = . The feature
that emerges from the unification of the relativistic and non-relativistic paradigms is the restoration of the internal
energy U , by way of the following revision:

2
2 2
.
1 1 1
m v
H U
v v
= +
+

With this revision, the invariants now become
2
2 U U = and
2
m U = , which are now continuously
connected to their non-relativistic versions 2 U = and m = . The 0 ab feature that emerges from the
unification, along the lines of 0 ab , that is absent from both the relativistic and non-relativistic paradigms, is that
non-relativistic theory has the condition 0 = , while relativistic theory has the condition 0 U = . The roles of a and
b are played here by and U .

Neither paradigm by itself distinguises from m, but after unification, we can now have m . The most important
consequence of this emergent feature is that while m ceases to have any meaning outside the familiar sectors of
tardions and luxons, retains its meaning for all symplectic leaves even including those corresponding to tachyons.

3. Symplectic Reduction in the Unified Poisson Manifold: Summary
Our discussion, here and in what follows, will be confined to the Helion sector. In brief, we classify sectors according
to the following prescription: the vacuons comprise the homogeneous systems, given by the invariant relations P 0
and 0 M . Under reduction, the symmetry group becomes the homogeneous group, taken in direct product with a 1-
dimensional subgroup which contains a vacuum energy H U = . The particular case J 0 and K 0 then defines the
vacuum. The corresponding symplectic leaf is 0-dimensional. Other symplectic leaves of dimensions 2 and 4 exist,
which we will not further elaborate on here.

The inhomogeneous systems are characterized by the sign of the (derived) mass shell invariant

2 2 2
. M P =
Positive, zero and negative values respectively define the tardion, luxon, and tachyon sectors. For the tachyon sector,
(which may only occur if 0 > ), the invariant is associated with an impulse , given by

2
2 2
.
M
P =


The luxon sector may occur for 0 . In the case 0 = , the luxon sector is termed here the synchron. It is defined by
the invariant condition 0 M , with a non-zero impulse given by
2 2
P = = and represents the non-relativistic limit
of both the relativistic tachyon and luxon sectors. Associated with the synchron is a time operator
2
t = K P
which has a bona fide complementary relation with the energy, by virtue of the Poisson bracket { } , 1 t H = . Thus, the
synchron embodies what in non-relativistic theory is termed an instantaneous transfer of impulse over space. This is
nothing less than the underpinning to action at a distance and to Newtons Third Law, itself. The time of transfer is
t , and the impulse transferred is P , itself.

Within each inhomogeneous sector is a subsector, we term here the corpuscle, comprisong the systems corresponding
to spin zero representations. These are given by the conditions W 0 and
0
0 W and have the following reduction:
, , . M = = = J r p K r P p
For this sector, the Poisson bracket relations reduce to a form that identify r and p as complementary, thus leading to
the familiar 3-dimensional Heisenberg relations. The symplectic leaf for this sector is 6 dimensional, with the
coordinates given by r and p .

The non-corpuscular tardion subsector is identified with particles of non-zero rest mass m and spin S with the
corresponding reduction:

2 2
2
, , , , 1 ,
p ap
M H U M m
m M m M m

= + = + = = + = +
+ +
p S
J r p S K r P p
and with the components of the Pauli-Lubanski vector given by:

0
0
, .
W
m W
m M

= + =
+
p
W S p S
The corresponding invariants are given by m U = ,
2 2
m S = and
2
2mU U = . By varying ( )
0
, W W (and
thus S ), the locus of constant invariant traces out a sphere. So, we may also term this sector spherical. Here, too, the
coordinates r and p are complementary. The symplectic leaf is 8-dimensional, with the remaining coordinates
identifying the points in the sphere traced out by S .

4. The Helion
The non-corpuscular tachyons do not have an interpretation in terms of spin. In contrast, the locus of constant invariant
traces out either a one-sheeted hyperboloid, two sheeted-hyperboloid or double cone. We may, thus, term these
sectors hyperbolic and conical.

Similarly, the non-corpuscular luxons and synchrons fail to have any sensible interpretation in terms of spin with one
notable exception, as we are about to see. In general, the surfaces of constant invariant trace out a cylinder, thus
leading to our subclassification of this sector as cylindrical.

The one exception occurs where the following invariant relations hold:

0
, . W M W P
The corresponding invariant is necessarily 0. In the non-relativistic case,
0
W emerges as an invariant and 0 = ,
while in the relativistic case is a non-zero invariant. In both cases, the invariants are closely associated with helicity.
Therefore, we term these sectors helical, naming the relativistic helical sector the helion.

For the helion, we may carry out the following reduction:

2
2 2
, , , , .
p
M H U M p
M M
= + = = = + =
p
J r p K r P p
The helion symplectic leaf is 6 dimensional, and so possesses 3 sets of complentary variables. However, unlike the
corpuscular and tardion sectors, the coordinates r and p are no longer complementary, so these cannot be chosen to
play this role. Moreover, there is no global set of coordinates that will serve as complementary variables. This is what
underlies the no position operator no go theorem for photons. However, by the Darboux Theorem, we know that we
can endow this symplectic leaf (locally) with 3 complementary pairs of coordinates. So, the questions arise; what are
they? And where/how does the coordinate grid go singular?

4. The Reduction Method
So at this point, our question centers on the helion the sector which contains the photons. To resolve the issue of
complementary variables, we carry out the following steps:
(1) Decompose ( ) , , , , H M J K P into coordinates ( ) , , , , , p x y z and the invariants ( ) , , , , U .
(2) Use the result of (1) to reduce ( ) , , , , H M J K P to ( ) , , , , , , , p x y z U .
(3) Substitute the result of (2) to reduce { } { } _, _, = + + J to { } { } _, _,
p
p

= + + .
(4) Use the result of (3) to reduce ( ) , , , , to
( )
, ,
p
in (2) and find the Poisson bracket relations for
the coordinates.

For step (1), we apply the following reduction:

( ) ( ) ( )
, , , ,
cos cos , cos sin , sin , sin , cos , 0 , sin cos , sin sin , cos .
p
p x y z M H pc U
c
= = + + = = +
= = =
p k r i j k
i j k

For the frame ( ) , , i j k , we have the following differential identities
( ) cos , cos sin , sin . d d d d d d d d = + = + = + i k j j i k k i j
From this, comes the Poisson bracket relations:
{ } { } { } { } { }( ) { } { } { } _, _, _, cos , _, _, cos sin , _, _, _, sin . = + = + = + i k j j i k k i j
and a similar set of relations for the transformation laws , , i j k .

For step (2), we first decompose the vector-valued generators as follows:
, , .
x y z x y z x y z
= + + = + + = + + i j k i j k i j k
We may then apply the transformation law to the original basis and carry out the reduction to both sides. This process is
illustrated for P :

( )
( ) ( )
sin ,
.
y x x y z
p p p p
p
M p
c
= + = + +
= + +
P k k k i j
P i j i j k

Applying this to the transformation law M = P P , we obtain the results
, .
1
sin
x
y
y
x z
y x
y
x
c
p p
c c c
c

=

| | | |
= = +
| ` |
| | |
\
\
= +
|
|

\
)
k i j
From this, we obtain
cot , cot .
y y y
x
y x x x
c c c c
| | | | | | | |
= + = + + +
| | |
|
| | |
\
\ \ \
i k j j k i

In a similar way, after reducing the transformation laws for J and K , we obtain the following transformation
, c
c p

= + +

r r rk k k
from which we may derive the following:

cot ,
cot ,
.
y y
x
x z x
y y
x
x z y
z
z
z
x y y
c c p
z
y x x
c c p
z
z c
c
| |
= + + +
|
|
\
| |
= + + + + +
|
|
\

= +

The transformation laws 0 = and 0 U = also follow from the reduction of the transformation laws for J , K and
H and do not need to be assumed at the outset of step (2).

For step (3), we note the reduction for P :

{ } { }
{ } { }
{ } { } ( ) { }
{ }( ) { }( ) { }( )
_, _,
_, _,
_, _, sin . _,
_, _, sin _, ,
x y z
p
p p
p p
p p p
=
= +
= + +
= + +
P k
k k
i j k

which results in the contributions
x
p , sin
y
p and
z
respectively to

and
p
. Collecting these and the
contributions arising from , , and , we get the following reduction:

{ } { } { }
{ }
{ } { }
_, _, _,
_, cos sin
_, _,
y
x x z z
x y z x z x
y y z
x
x y y z y
x
y x
z x z c
p y x c y p
c c c p c
z y
c
x y p x p
c c p c
x p y
c
| | | | | | | |
= + + + + + + + | | | |
| |
\ \ \
\
| | | | | | | | | |
| + + + + + + + | | |
|
| | | |
\
\ \ \ \
| |
+ + +
|
\
{ } { }( ) { }
2
_, _, _, .
y
z
z
p
p z c U
c c c
| | | |
+ + +
|
|
|
\
\

As a result, we obtain the following:

,
cos sin ,
,
, ,
x z
x z x
y y z
x
x y y z y
y
x z
p x y z z
y
x
x y y x z
z x c
y p
p c
z y
c
x y p x p
c c p c
z
y x c
c c c
p p
c c

| |
= + +
|
\
| | | | | | | |
= + + + + + + | | |
|
| | |
\
\ \ \
| | | |
= + + + + +
|
|
|
\
\
| | | |
= = + =
|
|
|
\
\
2
, , .
z
z U
p
c
c c


= =


There are 8 relations following from step (3), which allow us to eliminate all but three of the original 11 generators.
The 3 degrees of indeterminacy correspond to the 3 degrees of residual symmetry possessed by the Helion. None of
these extra degrees of freedom will appear, after back-substituting in (2):

, , ,
sin
cot , cot , .
sin
y
x
z
y x y
x z z
p
p
p p
x y
x y c c
x y y y z
p p p p p p p p p

= = =

+
| | | |
= + + + = + + + =
| |

\ \

This leads to the following Poisson bracket relations between the coordinates:

{ } { } { }
{ } { } { }
2
1 1
, , , , , 1,
sin
cot
, , , , , ,
x y z p
p p
y y c x
x z y z y x
p p p p
= = =


= = = +

all other Poisson brackets between the coordinates being zero.

For 0 = , this reduces to the usual Heisenberg relations for the Corpuscular sector only here, they are expressed in
spherical coordinates. Ignoring , the complementary sets of coordinates may be readily derived:
( ) ( ) ( ) , , sin , , , . px py z p
The Poisson bracket relations with brought back into the picture are:
{ } { } { } { } , 1, sin , 1, , 1, , sin sin . px py z p px py c = = = =
To obtain complementary variables from this, we need only make the correction
sin sin cos . py py c +
This leads to the relations:
{ } { } { } , 1, sin cos , 1, , 1, px py c z p = + = =
all other Poisson brackets between these six combinations of coordinates being 0. As seen clearly with the { } , y
brackets, this representation breaks down at the poles { } 0, , at which point we need to make use of a different
coordinate frame. The non-existence of a position operator r satisfying the Heisenberg relation with the momentum
p is thus linked to the No Hair Theorem. We can still comb part of the spheres hair and arrive at a position operator
that incorporates the correction ( ) ( ) cos sin y y c p + , thus resulting in the corrected position operator:

cos
cot .
sin
c c
py py

+ = +

r r j r j

5. Helical Synchrons
We may apply the same method to find complementary coordinates for the helical synchrons. The distinctive feature of
the synchron sector is that energy and time form a complementary pair. First, we carry out the reduction:
, , , , 0.
x y
J J t H U M = + + = = = = J i j k K p P p
The helicity takes the place of c , while the energy U is no longer invariant, but plays the role of the interaction
energy, and we think of the synchron as an action-at-a-distance transfer of the impulse p at time t .

Following the reduction method laid out in the previous section, we obtain for step (2) the following:

( ) ( )
( ) ( )
, 0, , cos ,
, 0, , cos .
sin
y x z x y y y y
x
z y z x x x x x
t p J J t p
H p J J t p
= = = = + +

= = = = + + +



Following step (3), we get
{ } { } { } { } { } { } { } { } { } _, _, _, _, _, _, _, _, _, ,
x y
x J y J p H t
J J p H t

= + + + + + + +
where

( )
( ) ( ) ( )
, , , ,
, , , cos sin .
x y
J x J y z x x x z x
p z z t z H y x x y y z y y y
t p J
t p J J J t p

= = = = +
= = = = + +


From this, as a result of step (4) after back-substitution, we get:

, 0, , cot ,
sin sin
, 0, , cot .
x
y
y x
J
H x J x
t J y J x
t J J
H p J J


= = = =

= = = = +

From this, we get the following Poisson bracket relations between the coordinates:
{ } { } { } { }
1
, 1, , , , 1, , cot ,
sin
x y y x x
H t J J J J J = = = =


all other Poisson brackets between the coordinates being 0. Finally, the complementary pairs are easily derived from
this:
{ } { } { }
, 1, sin , 1, , 1,
x y
H t J J = = =
with all other Poisson brackets between these 6 coordinate functions being 0. As mentioned above, one of the
complementary pairs, ( ) , H t , is for energy and time. Noting the correspondence with the Helion, we may define the
transverse synchron coordinates ( ) , x y by:
, .
x y
J py J px = =
The longitudinal coordinate z remains a c-number, playing the role of the worldline parameter for the synchron; so
it does not enter into the Poisson bracket relations.