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15 - Planck’s Theory 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

Planck immediately set about attempting to understand the significance of his formula for black-body radiation. He began by using Boltzmann's procedure in statistical mechanics, an approach he had previously rejected, but then adopted empirically a definition of the entropy of the oscillators which introduced the concept of quantisation. HIs derivation was not understood by his contemporaries, including Einstein, because of the lack of a theoretical motivation for the definition of entropy. Despite a major effort to understand his formula, Planck found no classical solution to the meaning of h, Planck's constant.

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Theoretical Concepts in Physics
An Alternative View of Theoretical Reasoning in Physics
, pp. 373 - 388
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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