Quantum mechanics is a relatively new field that has only been developed during the twentieth century. Luminaries, such as Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, and even Albert Einstein have contributed to quantum mechanics, which is alternately known as quantum theory and quantum physics. The uniqueness of quantum mechanics lies in the fact that this field deals with matter on such a small scale. So, let’s begin exploring this field and discovering why it has preoccupied the world’s leading scientist for the last century.
History and Development
When Max Planck was a university (or college) student, he was unsure about whether to study physics, so he asked a professor at university about the field. The professor proclaimed, “In physics, everything is almost all explored and researched. There are only a few little problems left like the one dealing with blackbodies.” Despite these dim prospects, Max Planck did study physics and found a gate to a whole new way of describing physics in his experiments of the blackbody.
He formulated one of the main principles of quantum mechanics: energy is quantized. This simple statement means that light is not a consistent flow of energy but consists of little packages of energy he called quants or “photons” (also known as lightquants today).
Based on the aforementioned discoveries, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrödinger developed a mathematical construction of quantum mechanics that involved theories of matrix mechanics and wave mechanics (these last two fields ultimately turned out to be the same). Schrödinger produced the Schrödinger equation, which is essential equation for quantum mechanics and details how particles behave under specific circumstances through time. Today, quantum mechanics and its predictions are the most frequent and thoroughly tested brance of physics. Quantum mechanics has not failed experimental tests. Ultimately, the culmination of this century of work introduced subfields (within quantum mechanics), such as quantum chromodynamics and quantum electrodynamics. These fields have been the focus of the last half-century’s leading physicists, including Richard Feynman. The research conducted with quantum mechanics also helped develop the Standard Model and still has provided the most stable view on our physical world. That is, unless string theory is correct!
Sources and Links
- “Quantum Mechanics.” Wikipedia.org. Viewed: July 2004. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics >.
- “Quantum Mechanics.” Scienceworld.wolfram.com. Viewed: July 2004. < http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/QuantumMechanics.html >.
- “Louis – Victor de Broglie.” Wikipedia.org. Viewed: July 2004. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis-Victor_de_Broglie >.
- “Photoelectric Effect.” Wikipedia.org. Viewed: July 2004. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photoelectric_effect >.
- “Photon.” Wikipedia.org. Viewed: July 2004. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon >.
- “Schrodinger Equation.” Scienceworld.wolfram.com. Viewed: July 2004. < http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/SchroedingerEquation.html >.