Quantum Physics Facts

  • By the 1890s most scientists thought light moved in waves.
  • Max Planck (1858-1947) realized that the range of radiation given out by a hot object is not quite what scientists would calculate it to be if radiation is waves.
  • Planck realized that the radiation from a hot object could be explained if the radiation came in chunks, or quanta.
  • Quanta are very, very small. When lots of quanta are emitted together they appear to be like smooth waves.
  • In 1905 Einstein showed that quanta explain the photoelectric effect.
  • In 1913 Niels Bohr showed how the arrangement of electrons in energy levels around an atom (see electrons) could be thought of in a quantum way too.
  • In the 1920s Erwin Schrodinger and Werner Heisenberg developed Bohr’s idea into quantum physics, a new branch of physics for particles on the scale of atoms. 200
  • Quantum physics shows how radiation from a hot object is emitted in little chunks that are called quanta.
  • Quantum physics explains how electrons emit radiation (see above). It shows that an electron is both a particle and a wave, depending on how you look at it. It seems to work for all four fundamental forces (see forces) except gravity.
  • The development of the technologies that gave us lasers and transistors came from quantum physics.
  • Quantum physics predicts some strange things on the scale of atoms, such as particles appearing from nowhere and electrons.