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A Quantum Theory for Energy

Max Planck
– the Reluctant Father of Quantum Physics

 

Planck assuming that the walls of the Black Body could be covered in electric oscillators. The hotter the temperature, the more the oscillators vibrated.

 

 

The father of quantum physics, Max Planck, was based in Berlin and was known to be an extremely conservative and passionate advocate of thermodynamics – the classical theory describing the transformation of energy. Despite this background, Planck took the bold and innovative step of assuming that the walls of the Black Body could be covered in electric oscillators. Remember, nothing was known about atoms at this time. The oscillators vibrate more and more as the temperature of the Black Body increases.

It was good that Planck was a thermodynamicist! Electromagnetic theory could explain the emission, absorption and propagation of radiation from the oscillators, but it had nothing to say about how the energy was distributed between the oscillators – only thermodynamics could answer this. Borrowing ideas from thermodynamics, Planck managed to derive an equation which perfectly described the Black Body frequency spectrum.

 

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 The Nobel Prize in Physics 1918 - Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck »    
 



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