The conception of photons

Por • 28 ene, 2017 • Sección: Crítica

Urjit A. Yajnik

Abstract: In the year 1900 Max Planck was led by experimental observations to propose a strange formula for the intensity as a function of frequency for light emitted by a cavity made in a hot substance such as a metal. It relied on peculiar properties to be obeyed by the emitters and absorbers in the cavity. I highlight the mathematically suggestive nature of the formula that could have provided a clue to the physical reasoning. In 1905, Einstein made the bold photon and was able to predict the formula for the photoelectric effect. The first part of this article concerns the period 1905 to 1923 of the difficulties in acceptance of the photon concept. In the second part of the article I present how S. N. Bose’s 1924 paper provided a systematic derivation of Planck formula using the conception of photons. We discuss the implications of the Quantum Mechanics that eventually emerged, showing that the seeds of some of its uncanny conceptual content were already foreshadowed in Einstein’s proposal.

arXiv:1701.06867v1 [physics.hist-ph]

History and Philosophy of Physics (physics.hist-ph)

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