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14 - 1895–1900: Planck and the Spectrum of Black-Body Radiation

from Case Study V - The Origins of the Concepts of Quantisation and Quanta

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 March 2020

Malcolm S. Longair
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Max Planck was an expert on classical thermodynamics and turned his attention to the understanding of black-body radiation in 1895. He worked out the form the radiation formula had to have from the emission and absorption of radiation of a dipole in thermal equilibrium with the radiation it emits. The formula related the mean energy density of radiation to the average energy of the oscillator. Using new precision measurements of the black-body spectrum, Planck derived the primitive form of the black-body spectrum by a combination of theory and the empirical results of experiment, but without any physical interpretation of the significance of the formula.

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Theoretical Concepts in Physics
An Alternative View of Theoretical Reasoning in Physics
, pp. 348 - 372
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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