Can a photon be more stationary

Photons, Atoms, and Quantum Mechanics

Gerthsen Physik pp 607-668 | Cite as

Part of the Springer textbook book series (SLB)


The classical theory of light, especially in its most perfect form as Maxwell-Lorentz theory of electromagnetic waves and their interaction with the atomic charge systems, had described an immense abundance of optical phenomena with admirable precision. Refraction and dispersion, scattering, the whole variety of polarization phenomena up to the Faraday and Kerr effect, optical, activity and, a little later, the finest details of the propagation of radio waves - all of this could essentially be made understandable by the classical theory of light. This theory failed for the first time when it set out to explain the emission and absorption of light. The simplest emission should be through single atoms. Why only certain sharp frequencies are emitted here and where they lie remained completely obscure. Isolated approaches, such as Thomsons Atomic model (Sect. 12.3.1), explained the existence of the spectral lines, but gave completely wrong values ​​for their position. For a large number of mutually influencing emitting particles, such as e.g. B. in the hot solid, especially in the "black", the situation seemed surprisingly more favorable. A continuous spectrum followed at least some rules of classical physics, such as Wien's law of displacement and Stefan-Boltzmann's law. The overall form of the spectral energy distribution, however, evaded the classical description, the more precisely it was measured.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Applied PhysicsUniversity BonnBonnGermany