Lamb and Retherford Discover the Lambshift (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: The discovery of the Lambshift led to the formulation of the theory of quantum electrodynamics.
Summary of Event
By the end of the nineteenth century, classical physics sought to explain the physical world as the interaction between discrete particles, or corpuscles, of matter or by wave activity. The success of classical physics prompted many scientists to predict the end of physics with answers to all the significant problems of physics. Yet, problems began to occur within this system, which led Max Planck eventually to discover bursts of energy that looked like particles rather than a continuous flow of energy. This marked the beginning of quantum mechanics, a theory that states that electromagnetic waves come in discrete units of energy rather than as one continuous flow of wave action. In terms of classical physics, quantum theory violates one of the fundamental assumptions of physics; that light, or radiation, spreads continuously and is evenly distributed through space. This difference marks the dividing line between classical physics and the modern world of quantum mechanics.
By 1905, Albert Einstein had worked out the details of the theory of special relativity and began to study the photoelectric effect, wherein light waves falling on certain metals would release electrons from the metal. His studies showed that the release of electrons from metal depended solely on the wavelength...
(The entire section is 1587 words.)
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