Our Physical World Beckons To Be Understood | Quantum Science Philippines
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Our Physical World Beckons To Be Understood

” … To free myself from the chains of the ‘merely personal’, from an existence which is dominated by wishes, hopes and primitive feelings. Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking.  The contemplation of this world beckoned like a liberation…”

– Albert Einstein



Lucretius, 94-55B.C.

Lucretius

It’s not yet too late to participate in an engaging conversation that is as as old as our civilization. Almost a hundred years before Christ, Lucretius wrote: “Nature resolves everything into its component atoms.” Yet already several hundred years before him Democritus (b. 460 BC) proposed that each atom cannot be further divided and each atom was not capable of change.
Democritus

Democritus

Fast forward two thousand years later. Lord Kelvin and J.J. Thomson gave the world a simple picture of the atom that can tested by experiment. These gentlemen proposed that the atom’s structure consists of electrons embedded like raisins in a dough or cake of equally positive charge.

William Thomson (Lord Kelvin)

William Thomson (Lord Kelvin)

J. J. Thomson

J. J. Thomson

It didn’t take long for Ernest Rutherford in 1911 to modify the cake model of the atom due to his discovery of the atomic nucleus. From his alpha scattering experiments, it was revealed that the atom has a positive charge concentrated minutely at its center with the electrons spread out over a large region beyond it. Much like the solar system with the sun at the center and the planets revolving around the sun. It this model of the atom that persists in the minds of many people today.

Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford

Yet this planetary model of the atom has a very serious flaw. According to the classical laws of physics the electrons going around the atom will emit radiation thereby losing its energy until it will spiral off and collapse to the center of the atom in a short time. Therefore this model cannot hold matter. It is not as stable as the planetary system we are in.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

James Clerk Maxwell


Niels Bohr

Niels Bohr


Niels Bohr then proposed his famous theory of the hydrogen atom in 1913. His model restricts the electron in stable, allowed, circular orbits without emitting any radiation; thus making a robust atom. Now this idea is completely alien and so contrary to what everyone believed at that time. Nothing in James Clerk Maxwell‘s electrodynamics and Isaac Newton‘s mechanics would support Bohr’s contentions. When does the electron emit energy? It is only when the electron makes a transition from one allowed orbit to another that it radiates energy. And this energy is related to an equation postulated 13 years earlier.

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton

Bohr’s radical proposal had its roots in the work of Max Planck who in 1900 introduced the earliest concept of the quantum of action to explain the age-old problem of radiation produced by a heated body or black body radiation.

Max Planck

Max Planck


Planck’s hypothesis is completely startling and without precedence. Light was emitted in bundles of energy where each bundle was related to the frequency of light, f, by E = hf. In this equation, h , Planck’s constant, the quantum of action was introduced for the first time into the body of physics. Planck’s hypothesis was very startling, completely unprecedented and completely in contradiction with old physics.

The quantum of action hypothesis of Planck marked the beginning of modern physics. We can say that the world was never the same after Planck.

4 Responses to “Our Physical World Beckons To Be Understood”

  1. debbie claire sanchez Says:

    Hi maam,

    are the pics really arrange that way? or was distorted after publishing? its a bit quite messy…

  2. james salig, jr. Says:

    yahh… i agree with debbie

  3. Ancelie Says:

    it is really worth remembering how these brilliant handsome guys have changed our concepts/ideas about our world. thanks to Max Planck.

  4. Ancelie Says:

    it is really worth remembering how these brilliant handsome guys have changed our concepts/ideas about our world. we owe quantum science from them. thanks Max Planck.

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