History Weblecture for Unit 55
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Once the concept of the atom as an indivisible particle was shattered and enough people accepted the view of the "component" atom, physicists were able to gain approval and grants to investigate this new view of matter further.
One of the problems facing the new physics of "quantum mechanics" was its deviation from the tried (but no longer quite true) principles of deterministic classical mechanics.
Read through Black Body Radiation at the University of Virginia Physics course site. You can skip the heavy math derivations and the section on degrees of freedom; concentrate on understanding the concepts!
This period of physics recalls the medieval problem of Aristotelian cosmology, explaining matter with its solid spheres and laws of linear motion for earth, fire, water, air, and circular motion for the quintessence, but unable to predict the motion of the planets accurately, and Ptolemaic models that could predict the motions of the planets but had no justification from physical theory.
Read through One Hundred Years of Quantum Mechanics by Daniel Kleppner and Roman Jackiw. The first part recaps Planck's work, but the rest of the article summarizes the development of Quantum Mechanics from Planck's proposal.
But how does this new view of the atom affect our understanding of chemistry and chemical compounds? Linus Pauling's ground-breaking work showed how electron orbital configurations can be used to predict molecular possibilities.
Read the first two pages of Linus Pauling's The Nature of the Chemical Bond.
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