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Einstein and Quantum Mechanics - Part 1

a World Without Einstein Series

Welcome to the bizarre micro-world of quantum mechanics. We explore Einstein's contributions to and rejection of this pillar of 20th century physics.

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After you have enjoyed the broadcast, get the book! All of the information presented here, and more, can be found in World without Einstein
World Without Einstein

Image #1

In the micro-world, nature is often “quantized” like steps on a staircase rather than the ramp-like behavior of our macro-world.

Einstein and Quantum Mechanics - Part 1 - Quantization of Energy

Einstein and Quantum Mechanics - Part 1 - solution to ultraviolet catastrophe

Image #2

Thermodynamics said hot bodies emit the same energy at all frequencies, but that made the total energy infinite. Planck suggested a trick to prevent the “Ultraviolet Catastrophe”: radiation must be quantized.

Image #3

Before QM, physics couldn’t explain why atoms didn’t collapse

Einstein and Quantum Mechanics - Part 1 - why do atoms collapse?

Einstein and Quantum Mechanics - Part 1 - why atoms are stable.

Image #4

Particle-wave duality explains why atoms are stable: electron orbits must contain integral numbers of wavelengths, so they can’t spiral in closer than orbit #1.

Image #5

Electrons can only occupy specific orbits with specific energies that are different for each type of atom.

Einstein and Quantum Mechanics - Part 1 - atoms occupy specific orbigts

Einstein and Quantum Mechanics - Part 1 - energy level transitions

Image #6

Atoms can emit or absorb only specific energies equal to the difference in electron energies. These sets of energies form a unique “spectrum” for each type of atom—a unique fingerprint allowing us to measure the composition of stars.

Image #7

The waves on the left each have a definite wave length and frequency, but indefinite locations—they are spread everywhere. Adding waves of different frequencies forms a wave packet with a location uncertainty dx and a frequency uncertainty df. Making dx smaller makes df be larger, and vice versa—it’s a tradeoff.

Einstein and Quantum Mechanics - Part 1 - particles as wave packets









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