Quantum Mechanics (PyEd 342)Prepared by Mesfin Tadesse, CoE, AAU, Megabit 2000 EC 2
Is the failure of Classical Mechanics due to incorrect equations? Is it possible tomake the correct modifications to the equations so it is applicable to all objectsirrespective of their size, like it was done in relativity at high speeds?
At this point, it is useful to look at some of the failures Classical Mechanics toappreciate how physicists of the time concoct new ideas to solve the puzzles andfailures piecemeal and develop Quantum Mechanics over a period of two decades.1.
The ultraviolet catastrophe
:One of the failures of Classical Mechanics is its inadequacy to solve theproblem of the
. A blackbody is an idealized object whichabsorbs and emits all frequencies. Imagine the blackbody as a cavity whoseinner walls are at a temperature
intensity of the radiation emittedby the walls at the temperature
is given empirically by the Stefan-Boltzmannlaw:
(1.1)However, the intensity is not uniformly distributed over all frequencies of theradiation. So, we can ask: “
What is the energy within a unit volume of thecavity at some given frequency
, at absolute temperature T
?”In 1900, Rayleigh used the laws of classical thermodynamics and classicalelectromagnetism and got the energy density as a function of frequency:
is Boltzmann constant and
is the speed of light. Equation (1.2) iscalled Rayleigh-Jeans formula.A graph of the energy density
is shown below both for theRayleigh-Jeans formula and the experimental data. The area under theexperimental curve is finite indicating that the total energy within the cavity isfinite at finite temperature. But the area under the R-J curve is infinite. That is,when the R-J formula is integrated over all frequencies, it blows up; meaningthe cavity at finite temperature has an infinite total energy inside! The problemlies in the UV region (high-frequency region) where the R-J curve does not fitthe experimental curve. This disaster was called the Ultraviolet Catastrophe.