Quantum vs. Classical Mechanics

Topics: Quantum mechanics, Photon, Light Pages: 2 (559 words) Published: May 2, 2005
Classical and Quantum mechanics are the two main fields of mechanics in physics. Classical mechanics came a few hundred years before Quantum mechanics. Subsequently it is less accurate and less reliable then the more recent mechanic field of Quantum mechanics. Despite being outdated, Classical mechanics can still be used for many everyday problems with bigger and slower moving objects. However, when dealing with extremely fast moving or small subatomic particles a Classical approach will not produce sufficiently accurate results as was the case around the 19th century.

Difficulties with the Classical mechanics theory came right around the 19th century. First was the Ultraviolet Catastrophe. Experimental data when testing blackbody radiation was found to be inconsistent with Classical mechanics. The data showed that as the wavelength of the incoming radiation approaches zero, the amount of energy being radiated also approaches zero, whereas Classical mechanics says the emitted energy is infinite. The second difficulty with the theory was its inability to correctly describe the photoelectric effect. The photoelectric effect says that photons from a surface are released when light hits it. Classical mechanics says that electrons will be emitted from a metal by light waves with any frequency as long as the intensity of the light is strong enough, and even if it is weak over a long enough period of time electrons will eventually be emitted. The theory was proved incorrect after experiments showed that light under certain frequencies did not produce the photoelectric effect on the metal, which meant that the emitting of electrons is related not to intensity but the waves frequency. A new string of mechanics, Quantum mechanics, was created in order to resolve the incompatibilities of Classical Mechanics. A main difference between the two fields of mechanics is the make up of the atom. In Quantum mechanics electrons in an atom are outside of the nucleus in...
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