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Concepts in Physics

March 9, 2016 | Author: | Posted in life sciences, physics

It is a well-known fact that science often progresses by virtue of overturning its older assumptions , the process which is also called a paradigm shift . Interestingly , such paradigm shifts that took place in physics during last century or so in many cases served to put it further and further away from common sense (Beiser 1995 ) Indeed , with emergence of quantum physics what is usual for us in our everyday life , which in its turn is in a perfect agreement with classical physics , lost sense when attempts to apply familiar laws to microscopic world [banner_entry_middle]

were taken This microscopic world seems to be governed by laws so different to classical notions and often so strange that , historically , many revolutionary physical concepts were accepted by conservative physicists very reluctantly at best

Among such revolutionary physical concepts arguably the most important historically and significant for further development of modern physics were the concepts of `quantization of energy ‘ and ‘wave-particle duality . Let us see how those concepts were introduced

Until the last decades of the nineteenth century the physical world according to experiments of the time , was seemingly in full agreement with the principles of classical (Newtonian ) mechanics , which was , in essence , the physics of everyday life . By the end of the century however , difficulties began to appear . The first to convincingly show that deep mysteries remained was famous German physicist Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (1858-1947 ) who introduced the concept of quanta which later gave rise to the whole field of quantum physics . Planck was studying behavior of light and was intrigued by a distribution law of radiation discovered by his colleague Wilhelm Wien in 1896 which , while valid at high frequencies , broke down completely at low frequencies . It seemed to Planck that this discrepancy hinted at some fundamental combination of these two properties in some simple manner resulting in a common formula . The formula describing this particular case was found by Planck and was considered a great success , but Planck felt that it was an ad hoc formula , a successful guess which still had to be based on some fundamental principle in order to have a proper scientific ground In 1900 Planck achieved this deeper understanding , when he assumed that the black body (so called because it is supposed to absorb all incident radiation and is considered a perfect emitter ) could only absorb and emit energy in some discrete amounts which he called quanta . Only after analysis of the concept of quanta of energy could Planck come to his final formula (Gillispie 1975 ) Each quanta held an energy directly proportional to a constant h and multiplied by the frequency of oscillation of the associated blackbody . In essence , Planck found that the energy of an object cannot be any amount as had been supposed in the older classical view . Instead , energy changes only in discrete and small steps . Thus any increase in energy must not be pictured in a smooth way but instead as a kind of stairway (figure 1

Figure 1 . In the… [banner_entry_footer]

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