Module 9.8 - From Quanta to Quarks

Contextual Outline

In the early part of the twentieth century, many experimental and theoretical problems remained unresolved. Attempts to explain the behaviour of matter on the atomic level with the laws of classical physics were not successful. Phenomena such as black-body radiation, the photoelectric effect and the emission of sharp spectral lines by atoms in a gas discharge tube could not be understood within the framework of classical physics.

Between 1900 and 1930, a revolution took place and a new more generalised formulation called quantum mechanics was developed. This new approach was highly successful in explaining the behaviour of atoms, molecules and nuclei. As with relativity, quantum theory requires a modification of ideas about the physical world.

This module increases students' understanding of the history, nature and practice of physics and the current issues, research and developments in physics.