Einstein's 1905 Papers

Topics: Albert Einstein, Quantum mechanics, Special relativity Pages: 2 (583 words) Published: June 2, 2013
HST 427

Einstein had always been a perponet of symmetry in physics, and at the turn of the 20th century physics was quite asymmetrical. At the time the commonly accepted electromagnetic theroy was that light propagates as continuous waves through an invisible substance or aether. This theory created a duality or asymmetry in physics. Where on one side you had material atoms with measurable mass and light which moved through an aether, which was not a gas made up of individual atoms but a continuous substance that could not be detected. The wave like behavior of light could be demonstrated through many experiments conducted by Maxwell and Lorentz, but when it was show that light also had a finite measurement with the Photoelectric effect and black body radiation experiments, Einstein theroized the existence of indivual light particles that each carried a "quantum" or fixed amount of energy. Einstein sought a unification of these two viewpoints by removing the asymmetry in favor of a discontinuous quantum theory of light. These issues in physics and severial others like brownian movement, blackbody radiation, and relativity are what led Einstein to write his 1905 papers. The Photoelectric effect is something that was unxplained when it was first discovered. The details of the photoelectric effect where in diret contradiction to the expectations of very well developed classical physics. The photoeletric experiment invovled shining light on a piece of metal in a vaccum. Electrons would then be ejected from the surface of this metal but only at certain wavelengths. The effects of the experiment when first observed were that the electrons were emitted immediately and that the transfer of energy from the light to the ejected electron was imediate. Classical theory would dictate that the light would need to build up it's enegery on the surface inorder to cause the electron to eject. From these experiments Einstien thoerized that light must be transfering...
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