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A Quantum Theory for Energy

The First Steps Towards Quantising Nature


Planck had proposed that

Etot = N E,

where 'Etot' is the total energy of all the oscillators, 'N' is an integer number and 'E' is the arbitrarily small lump of energy. In order for the calculations to succeed, Planck discovered that he had to choose the size of the energy lumps to be proportional to the frequency of the radiation, i.e.:

E = h f,

where 'f' is the oscillator frequency and 'h' is a constant which Planck hoped would eventually become infinitely small.


Planck struggled to understand the physical interpretation of his equation. Eventually, he decided that a radical step was needed and adopted a mathematical interpretation, where the energy of the oscillators was divided into small lumps to make the calculations more meaningful. He expected that the lumps could (mathematically) be made to become infinitely small as the calculations proceeded.


Related Laureate

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

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