Atomicity and Quanta by James Jeans

By James Jeans

This can be the whole textual content of James Jeans's Rouse Ball Lecture given in 1925 at Cambridge college, and surveys the sector of atomic and subatomic physics within the early days of quantum mechanics, with a short ancient point of view on size.

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By James Jeans

This can be the whole textual content of James Jeans's Rouse Ball Lecture given in 1925 at Cambridge college, and surveys the sector of atomic and subatomic physics within the early days of quantum mechanics, with a short ancient point of view on size.

Show description

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It hardly seems possible that the model we have just imagined can present us with the true picture of an atom. There is the obvious objection that the electromagnetic field in which we have supposed the electric charges to be immersed not only extends to infinity but is of infinite energy. Not only so, but the model provides no explanation of the atomicity which spectroscopy shews to exist in the angular momenta, radii and eccentricities of atomic orbits. Before we can adopt this electromagnetic field as the missing part of our atom, we must give it some sort of a structure which will not only limit its total energy but will impress some sort of atomicity on the orbits which are possible for [ 55 ] an electron.

II. The principle of the undulatory theory of light. III. The principle of relativity. IV. The principle of reversibility. JAQ 3 [ 34 ] The first two of these principles have already been explained, the third probably needs neither explanation nor justification at the present day, but the fourth, the principle of reversibility, may call for a few words of explanation. The classical dynamics predicted that there could be no final steady state of equilibrium between matter and radiation until the whole energy of the matter had been transformed into ultra-violet radiation of infinitesimal wave-length.

And again to-day the analogy of flying bullets, an analogy within the experience of every one, is ready to hand to suggest explanations for the photoelectric effect and quantum phenomena in general, while the analogy of spreading waves, also within everyone's experience, is again ready to suggest that the undulatory theory is incompatible with the facts to be explained. [ 62 ] Exact mathematical analysis, as we have seen, establishes the falsity of this last suggestion. On the other hand, the analogy of hydrodynamical sources and sinks, which do not come within our everyday experience, suggests the possibility of explaining the facts in terms of a pure undulatory theory, and has nothing to fear from exact mathematical analysis, from which indeed it receives nothing but encouragement.

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