THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD

Prologue:
Our present understanding of the physical world around us has been built up through centuries of patient observation and experimentation aided by careful analysis and theoretical reasoning. With our increasing capabilities, the tools employed for observation have become increasingly complex, drawing upon all our technological skills, so that we now have instruments such as particle accelerators with a circumference of about 30 km, and a variety of observation posts scattered not only all around our home planet but ranging far and wide throughout our solar system. For analyzing all these observations, mathematics has been an invaluable aid for the process of reasoning. It enables us to pursue logical deductions to enormous depths with great precision and helps us to see the order and pattern underlying what would otherwise be a bewildering mass of observations. In the development of physics, theory and observation have always gone hand in hand, constantly reinforcing each other. If at any time, one gets left too far behind, the world of physics feels itself to be in a crisis situation and intensive efforts are launched to come out of it. Many a times, such crises have resulted in the emergence of a completely new world-view, or ‘paradigm’, the term popularized by Thomas Kuhn in his ground-breaking treatise, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. This systematic interplay between theory and observation can be called “The Scientific Method”. It has taken on many different patterns, but the most common one is shown in the figure below.

OBSERVATIONS

EMPIRICAL CORRELATIONS

HYPOTHESIS

CONFIRMATION or REJECTION or MODIFICATION

COMPARISON WITH OLD OBSERVATIONS

THEORETICAL LOGICAL FRAMEWORK DEDUCTIONS

COMPARISON WITH NEW OBSERVATIONS

TESTABLE PREDICTIONS

Fig. 1: The Scientific Method

1

It is. a perfect knowledge of the vast and complex Universe around us. Therefore. However. Anyone is free to propose any postulate. and it also acts as a challenge and source of inspiration for theoreticians to come up with a theoretical framework that would successfully incorporate it. we cherish the established theories which have been our invaluable guide in understanding natural phenomena. require of it is that the logical inferences derived from it should be consistent with the observed phenomena. the first task is to verify if their behaviour conforms to the predictions of the prevailing theory. and the set of testable predictions obtained from it. such an empirical correlation does not necessarily have to be directly connected to the existing overall world-view about the natural phenomenon. very useful for experimentalists in bringing some order to their observations. can together be called the new theoretical framework. and must. it is time to think in unorthodox ways. 3. we also have to keep an open mind and be fully conscious of the fact that we do not have. it is very important to measure the physical quantities involved to as great a precision as possible. consistency with known facts is a necessary. about the behaviour of nature. Furthermore. when existing theoretical frameworks are unable to explain a new set of observations. sequence of logical deductions usually employing mathematical derivations. This combination of original hypothesis. But as scientists. Observations: This involves the observation of a natural phenomenon or a group of phenomena. This can sometimes be as simple as an exercise in “curve-fitting”. Observations can be made under natural conditions out in the field or in specially designed experiments in the laboratory. things can become much more interesting if there is a deviation from the expected behaviour: such a deviation can be a forerunner of a major change in our notions about nature. What we can. When dealing with physical phenomena. and perhaps will never have. we may even fight vigorously against any new idea that violates the prevailing principles that have been established through decades. Theoretical Framework: In science. which is now made even simpler by the availability of computer programs as calculational aids. of hard work. or a set of postulates. It cannot be emphasized enough that a theory that does not make testable. we do not like the notion of giving them up. even centuries. We also require of it that it should be able to make predictions about new phenomena that can be quantitatively tested in subsequent observations and experiments. condition for a hypothesis to be taken seriously. However. 2. it does not have to justify itself. Confirmation leads to the further validation of the theory.MAJOR STAGES IN THE PROCESS 1. 2 . Empirical Correlations: When new data relating two or more physical parameters is acquired. But first there is the relatively straightforward step of obtaining mathematical relationships that can reproduce the graphs on an empirical basis. it is time to come up with a new hypothesis about the way nature is supposed to behave. There have been many instances of small differences in the measured values leading to the uncovering of unimagined facets of nature. observable predictions does not qualify as a scientific theory. The new hypothesis is proposed as a postulate. nevertheless. but not a sufficient.

we also expect it to be able to predict new phenomena. new observations and new theoretical structures based on the physical insight gained from them very often ultimately provide us with an answer to the original ‘Why?’ And when that is obtained. If both these tests are passed. we sometimes worry about their basis. Terminology: A few words now about the terminology employed. 'Newton’s Laws of Motion'. If not. it may be promoted to the level of a “principle”. But in science. and repeated testing and verification of its predictions. It is precisely because of the absence of any other explanation that postulates are put forward. 3 . a “theory” is based upon facts. Of course. As we have seen. or it may be modified suitably and subjected again to the same sequence for confirmation. if an answer to that had been immediately available then there wouldn’t have been a need for framing postulates in the first place. can be elevated to the more exalted level of a “theory”. In short.4. 5. or hypothesis. having seen so many of these supposed ‘laws’ fall by the wayside during the dizzying pace of development of the last century. logical and mathematical analysis. to be more humble. This is a scientific framework in which we have strong confidence as being a reliable guide to the workings of nature since its accuracy and validity have been rigorously tested. it becomes a logically inferred fact based on a deeper understanding of nature. physicists have now learnt to be more cautious. a scientific theory is the most accurate and complete description of a facet of natural behaviour that we have at the time. Previously. Underlying a scientific theory is a large amount of empirical evidence. we can’t help wondering. we have a confirmation of the validity of the hypothesis. ‘Why?’ Well. And when the predicted phenomena are actually observed. Comparison with Observations: The inferences from the new hypothesis are first compared with the existing data in order to verify their consistency. When a postulate underlying a scientific theory is found to be able to describe a large body of phenomena and has been tested over and over again over a long period of time so that a great deal of confidence has been built up in its validity. a postulate is exactly that: a postulate. the hypothesis is either. However. the original postulate. so that we had for example. the term “law” was often applied to such generalized statements. It does not have to justify itself. so that we sometimes contrast “theory” to “facts” in everyday conversations. a “hypothesis” is the initial postulate or set of postulates that is formulated to explain a certain phenomenon. the ‘postulate’ no longer remains a postulate. or ‘Law of Conservation of Mass’. Then comes the second crucial step of trying to observe the new phenomena that are predicted by logical inferences from the hypothesis and carrying out measurements that will be its real test of validity. By its very definition. It should be noted here that there is a huge difference in the term “theory” as it is used in common language and its use in a scientific context. They now prefer the term “principle” to the more ambitious claim of having discovered a “law of nature”. Looking back at the set of postulates underlying any physical model. as we have just discussed. To really put faith in a new postulate. In common usage its meaning is closer to ‘conjecture’ or ‘supposition’. rejected and discarded completely.

had discussed the merits of the heliocentric model. The great eighth century sage and savant. whose motion indicated their linkage together in some way.D. But for many years he did not dare to publish his work and it was only in 1543. during his long sojourn in 4 . Many observatories were set up in which a major activity involved identifying and carefully recording the positions of stars and planets. They also participated actively in developing the theoretical base of the discipline. In this period. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq. to 150 A. the Ptolemaic model. remained unchallenged and was even adopted by the Catholic Church as part of its religious dogma. the Earth being relegated to the position of being just one planet amongst the several others. Venus. Having assimilated the base of acquired knowledge. Mars. Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) had formulated a model of the solar system with the Sun at the centre and all the planets moving around it. The great scholar Abu Rehan al-Biruni. Some ancient Indian astronomers. amongst these. Let us first discuss the process through which Newtonian mechanics was established as the ruling paradigm in the field.EXAMPLES FROM HISTORY OF SCIENCE 1. We will in particular deal with its application to the motion of bodies in the solar system. From the 8th century to the 14th. In moving directly from Ptolemy to Copernicus. people have been observing the motion of objects in the night sky and amongst the multitude of stars.D. he tried to placate the prevailing opinion by downplaying the importance of his model and in its Preface it was represented as being not an actual physical picture but merely a calculational device to help in simplifying calculations of planetary positions. From time immemorial. such as Aryabhata in the fifth century had also considered the idea of the heliocentric model. This has resulted in many of the stars today having names of Arabic origin. there was a flourishing of scientific thought in Islamic regions. Jupiter. It was very natural for people to assume that all these bodies revolved around a stationary Earth in some fashion. besides the sun and the moon they had identified five planets. Thereafter for nearly 1400 years. Mercury. Muslim scholars of that period had a very open mind and they were very willing and eager to accept and digest new knowledge whatever its source may have been. many Muslim scholars made very significant contributions to the development of astronomy. Establishment of Newtonian Mechanics We will now look at the working of the scientific method as illustrated by some examples from the history of science. Even then. they then made their own original contributions. and Saturn. Ptolemy. Any other view was deemed to be blasphemous and persons holding such views were liable to be prosecuted and punished as heretics.. as described in his comprehensive book “Almagest”. the use of “zero” in arithmetical calculations was probably the most important one. The assimilation of Greek sources by the Arabs is very well known. who worked in Alexandria during the period 125 A. China and India had well-established traditions of intellectual activity. it should not be thought that there was complete stagnation during the long intervening period. As a young man. they also acquired many useful ideas from there. when he was on his deathbed that his book “De Revolutionibus…” was finally published. introduced refinements in this Earth-centred model that enabled it to fit the existing astronomical data very well. but when they came in contact with Indian culture.

He conducted various other experiments with mechanical objects and established some basic relationships governing their motion. the visionary Galileo (1564-1642) whose work was an inspiration to those who followed after him. From the trajectory of a tiny stone thrown by a child to the majestic movements of the Earth. Through his painstaking work and brilliant insights he was able to show that only the heliocentric model could accurately fit Brahe’s data. He worked out the logical consequences of some of these postulates 5 . After his death. However. Before going to the next stage. the Moon and the planets. We have all heard about that famous experiment of his dropping different objects from the leaning tower of Pisa to demolish one of the long held fallacies originated by Aristotle that heavier bodies fall at a faster rate. the Ptolemaic model continued to be favoured during this period and astronomers devoted more energy to introducing improvements in its structure. This began to change when Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) accumulated a massive amount of data about planetary positions with a very high precision. The stage was now set for the emergence of Isaac Newton. however. 1304) made their own important contributions to this debate. For a long time. We therefore have to rely upon the European narrative for understanding the modern development of Science. Besides heavenly bodies. he was ordered to house arrest that continued till his death nine years later. was convinced that the Copernican model of the solar system was the correct one and tried to convey this to the public in his powerful and witty writings. Generally. through his astronomical observations. Let us come back to European developments again. a few words should be said about a contemporary of Kepler. the heliocentric Copernican model was largely ignored. He is perhaps best remembered for daring to challenge the dogmas of the powerful Catholic Church regarding natural phenomena and in particular. These correlations were able to very faithfully track the motions of planets as observed and recorded by Brahe and others. however. the workings of the solar system. was not amused. this structure does not qualify to be called a theory. His supreme genius and bold vision enabled Newton to discern hidden patterns and propose laws of mechanical behaviour that were universal in their application. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) managed to get hold of most of that data and set about the task of trying to understand the patterns underlying it. Galileo. motion of every kind could be described by a very simple set of postulates that we know as “Newton’s Laws of Motion” and “Newton’s Law of Gravitation”. 1201) and ibn al-Shatir (b. Later. there has been a stagnation of scientific thought in the Islamic world and continuity in the flow of ideas has been lost. discussed these ideas with his Indian counterparts and wrote about the relative merits of the two models. But to do that. al-Tusi (b. the year of Galileo’s death. as apart from ease of calculation it did not seem to have any decisive edge over the Ptolemaic model.this region in the period around 1030. Galileo was also very interested in the motion of bodies here on Earth. in our modern terminology. It did. The Church. its vision was very limited and it did not satisfy the criterion of being able to make completely new verifiable predictions. he had to introduce further refinements in it and finally came up with a set of empirical correlations that became known as “Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion”. and after a trial for heresy. provide important clues to the underlying physical principles that served as important guideposts for later developments. which was coincidentally. who was born in the year 1642. We remain largely ignorant of all these developments because after the 14th century. his junior associate.

Newtonian Mechanics was the principal theoretical tool employed and through its use. It was the first addition to the set of planets that had been known from ancient times. At about the same time. Successful testing of this framework in terms of verifying existing observations as well as its predictions of new kinds of phenomena was soon carried out and it became accepted as the ruling paradigm for the physical world. “Classical Mechanics”. that was determined for this new planet. carried out very similar calculations and arrived at a similar result. just a vague statement about an unseen planet was not sufficient. J.500 million kilometres and that of Uranus is about 3. two bodies of opinion developed about the implications of this discrepancy. has been a powerful tool and it has been applied to numerous phenomena over the centuries. In 1846. he finally got around to publish it in his immortal book.when he was only about 25 years old. the orbital radius of Saturn. worked out a trajectory for the unseen planet based on the implications of the observations of Uranus in the context of Newtonian Mechanics. its power really captured the public imagination in the sequence of events that led to the discovery of the planet Neptune in 1846. the mismatch indicated that Newtonian Mechanics is not universally applicable and that. as it is often called. perhaps.C. But this work lay unattended in his drawers for nearly two decades and it was only in 1686 that after much persuasion by his friends. Thus. is defined as the mean distance between the Earth and the Sun. According to one point of view. One popular device suggested to save the theory was the hypothesis that there was another yet unseen planet beyond Uranus whose gravitational influence was causing the perturbations in its observed orbit. a French astronomer. and tried to find explanations for this apparent discrepancy within the Newtonian framework.) In understanding the motion of Uranus. it was noticed that the observational positions of Uranus did not coincide exactly with the predictions of Newtonian Mechanics and there was a slight discrepancy between the two that could not be explained away. and it also doubled the radius of the known solar system from ∼ 10 AU. such as that between the Sun and Uranus. fresh out of the University. Leverrier was a much more reputable and influential astronomer and the astronomical community treated his prediction with much greater respect. “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica”. a powerful telescope was 6 . the orbital radius of Saturn is about 1. From his calculations. but no one paid much attention to the work of this unknown student. to the ∼ 20 AU radius. or “Newtonian Mechanics”. He asked other astronomers who had more powerful telescopes at their disposal to position them at a particular point in the sky at a particular time. Adams. which is about 150 million kilometres. We now had a complete theoretical framework for describing mechanical motion of all kinds. While its usefulness was never in doubt. astronomers were able to work out the parameters of its trajectory around the Sun. or Astronomical Unit. Many decades later. At this point. to have scientific credibility this had to be backed by firmer evidence. Leverrier. This was a very exciting discovery. In 1781. The other group was much more deeply attached to the theory that had been an unfailing beacon for such a long time. At a German observatory. However. a young British student. Herschel discovered a new planet that came to be named Uranus. (1 AU. there are other forces at play that we do not yet understand.000 million kilometres. which is generally referred to as “Principia”. at very large distances. he made a bold prediction about the exact position of this new planet.

The basic idea of the experimental set-up involved the division of a beam of light into two segments that were then directed at right angles to each other. This hypothetical medium was attributed all kinds of properties which were deemed to be necessary for it to be able to propagate light. This medium could not be ordinary matter. To get around this problem. that even the obvious contradictions in its hypothesized properties were simply glossed over. the wave theory had one serious problem. sunlight and light from stars gets to us through space that is largely bereft of matter. After all. as optical phenomena such interference and diffraction were studied more carefully. the wave theory was established as the correct idea and was not seriously questioned for two centuries. One of these beams travelled parallel to the Earth’s motion. This eighth planet of the solar system is now known as Neptune. However. But later. but this demonstration of its enormous reach in being able to predict the presence of an object billions of kilometres away really fired the public imagination and gave it an almost mystical status. a contemporary of Newton. and the other perpendicular to it. when Maxwell showed that light is an electromagnetic phenomenon. Emergence of the Special Theory of Relativity Huygens. and its orbital radius is about 30 AU (or about 4500 million kilometres). Later.turned to the predicted position and to the delighted surprise of everyone there was the faint new object almost exactly where it had been calculated to be. Science does not respect reputations. At the end of the nineteenth century. had formulated a wave theory of light that initially faced stiff competition from Newton’s favoured “corpuscular” theory. 2. physicists hypothesized the presence of an all-pervading medium that was given the name ‘ether’. The time taken by the two beams in travelling equal distances would be different because of the different way the Earth’s speed through the ether would be combined with the two beams. Michelson and Morley began a series of experiments that were to have a tremendous influence upon the development of Physics. the concept of the ether was simply modified for it to act as the medium for such waves. to the status of a subservient disciple of the new joint sovereigns that emerged in the early twentieth century in the form of “Relativistic Mechanics” and “Quantum Mechanics”. despite its dominance. It was in this environment. that in 1886. The power and versatility of Newtonian Mechanics had been well established in all the myriads of applications for which it had been used for nearly two centuries. in which light beams were visualized as streams of tiny particles. In its ever-continuing march towards the uncovering of new facets of Nature. just when Newton’s reputation was at its zenith. both the beams were reflected back to their point of origin. new observations began accumulating which ultimately led to the displacement of Newtonian Mechanics from its lofty perch of the “Lord of all it surveyed”. in 1864. That was the question of the medium in which the wave motion took place. This time difference could be deduced from the interference pattern to be observed at the point where the two beams were 7 . the idea of the ether was firmly fixed. because light could travel with ease even through vacuum. and that it is possible to generate many other kinds of electromagnetic waves. In the minds of the physicists of the late nineteenth century. It was taken so much for granted. After travelling equal distances. Their goal was to directly measure the speed of Earth in its motion through the ether.

the young Albert Einstein was working as an official at the patent office of the government of Switzerland. which could have been responsible for this failure. Efforts were made to explain this failure by many people.recombined. which had the implication that the Earth was stationary! This obviously could not be true. This formulation was able to reconcile the observed facts. because there did not appear to be any underlying physical basis for it. but it was not entirely satisfactory. But. and with some modification in their apparatus. and so this experiment had to be termed a failure. A simple exercise in vector analysis would then yield the speed of the Earth. far away from the traditional centres of scientific research. In the year 1905. agreed that they should have been able to measure the speed of the Earth and could find no reason for their failure to do so. and they devised mathematical expressions that would give the degree of contraction to be expected. and for many years they continued to repeat their experiments at different locales. prominent amongst whom were Lorentz and Fitzgerald. To their great surprise. the experimenters failed to detect any difference in the travel time of the two beams. It seemed to be more in the nature of an empirical correlation. fortunately for him. his duties at the office 8 . Michelson and Morley were very persistent people. In fact everyone who carefully examined their methods. 2: Experimental set-up for the Michelson-Morley Experiment Till the beginning of the 20th century the failure of the Michelson-Morley experiment continued to be an embarrassment for physicists. However. They could not identify the element in their experimental set-up or in their analysis. Nor could anyone else. They came up with the suggestion that moving bodies experienced contraction in the direction of their motion. Mirror Light Source Semisilvered mirror Mirror Detector Fig. and for science. rather than a physical theory. But every time they obtained the same null result.

We will now very briefly discuss a few features of the special theory of relativity. in their citation they especially mentioned the photo-electric effect as the main basis for their award. and all frames in uniform motion with respect to each other. but sometimes it is important to do that in order to preclude the possibility of any confusion. One dealt with an explanation of Brownian motion. a few comments on these postulates. the restriction made the mathematics much simpler and much easier to understand. The General Theory forms one of the basic elements of our understanding of the physical world and has profoundly affected our notions about it. It also implies that there is no preferred state of absolute rest or absolute motion. A few years later Einstein completed his work which included accelerated frames of reference as well. The speed of light in vacuum is invariant for all observers irrespective of the motion of the source of light. or of the observers. each one of which has become a landmark. one of which is to discuss the nature of light in detail. So this part might simply be said to be stating the obvious. In the later part of the first postulate. It seems to be at variance with our intuitive understanding of the way velocities are supposed to be added. are equally valid for use as reference. we might wonder about the restriction on relative velocities being constant: wouldn't accelerated frames of reference obey the same laws? Well they would. Another was the very elegant explanation of the photo-electric effect. For one thing. The first part of the first postulate is simplicity itself. In this very year he published his work in three very different areas. But perhaps the easiest path is to say that this was Einstein’s response to the failure of the Michelson-Morley 9 . which really launched the photon on its career as an independent particle.were not very demanding. 2. and left him with enough time to pursue his scientific interests on his own. but at this stage Einstein wanted to focus his attention on situations involving constant speeds only. Laws of physics are the same for all observers who are located in frames of reference moving at constant velocity with respect to each other. One of its consequences has been a revision of our ideas about the nature of gravity. and this is now known as the ‘General Theory of Relativity’. the apparently random dance of particles that is observed on fluid surfaces. implying thereby that it applies to a special case: that of constant velocity. And it was the “special” version of this theory that Einstein presented in his third paper in that momentous year. When the Nobel Prize committee finally got around to awarding the Nobel Prize to Einstein in 1921. Now. At first sight. It is in fact because of this restriction that we add the adjective. the second postulate causes some discomfort. The relativity of all reference frames also invalidates the idea of the uniquely stationary frame defined by the stationary ether. or that laws of physics might change just because of our changing our state of motion. 'Special’ before it. History would probably disagree with them. We have no reason to believe that any particular frame of reference should have any special properties. The idea of rest or motion can be described only relative to a frame of reference. There are several ways of justifying the reasonableness of this postulate. Einstein started with two basic postulates: 1. and even this ‘restricted’ theory uncovered a vast treasure of new ideas. and Einstein’s name will always be renowned much more for the theory of relativity.

the shifts produced from the old Newtonian results are extremely difficult. we can see the general trend that as long as the speeds involved are much less than the speed of light. the length measured in one system by observers in the other. These relativistic effects are not discernible in most situations in the world that we experience directly with our senses. and there it is the relativistic result that matches experimental observation. these effects have to be explicitly taken into account.999 γ 2. However. then the difference between the two sets of results becomes pronounced. the relativistic effects become very prominent. and in this domain we must use relativistic relationships.95 0. when we move into the realm where velocities begin to approach the velocity of light.10 0. v/c. The ratio of system speed to the speed of light.00 0.000 1. Even at the highest velocities that we encounter in that world. And this was the path that Einstein took.995 0. difficult though it might be for us to abandon our old cherished notions. In the design of particle accelerators.012 22. Length contraction and the slowing down of time have been verified in many experiments.294 3.089 10. However as the speed of the system approaches the speed of light. we have to follow the path traced by observation.90 0.366 A simple derivation from Einstein’s postulates shows that when two systems are moving at a speed v with respect to each other.99 0. In physics we have learnt that where there is a clash between our intuition and experimental observation. the relativistic correction required is negligible.01 0. Most of these involve elementary particles moving at relativistic speeds. plays a very important role in these calculations and the importance of relativistic effects is indicated by the factor.203 7.538 v/c 0. 10 .005 1.experiment. The development of science has been made possible only by this dogged determination to follow the lead of nature wherever it might take us. otherwise those systems would not be able to function properly.155 1. Similarly. clocks will appear to run more slowly in the other system and time will be “stretched” or “dilated” by a factor: T= γ T0 From the values of γ in the Table above.000 1. if not impossible. γ defined by: γ ≡ 1/( 1 .50 0.75 γ 1. In this experiment they attempted to measure the difference in the speed of light as seen by two different kinds of observers. so that the relationships of Newtonian mechanics would continue to be valid. to measure. will be contracted by a factor: L= L 0/ γ . Since they failed to do that.v2/c2)½ The values of γ as a function of the relative velocity are shown below: v/c 0. one was justified in concluding that nature is trying to tell us that it is futile to try to detect any change in the speed of light.

We will take up this story later when we discuss atomic processes. the notion that mass could not be created or destroyed in any process was considered to be a very basic principle. the total amount of energy was assumed to be always conserved. Relativistic Mechanics has superseded Newtonian Mechanics as the theoretical framework providing the more accurate representation of physical reality as we know it today. 11 . At the time when the Relativistic revolution was taking place. At such speeds. The factor. We now know Newtonian Mechanics to be only an approximation that works very well at relatively low speeds but breaks down when speeds of the systems involved become comparable to the speed of light. Newtonian Mechanics suffered yet another indignity in being demoted to the position of being subservient to this new sovereign as well. and the two separate principles of conservation. However. while energy could change from one form to another. Similarly. and was completed in 1926 with the formulation of the comprehensive theoretical framework of Quantum Mechanics by Schrödinger and Heisenberg. In this major paradigm shift.One of the many amazing predictions of the Special Theory of Relativity was the possibility of converting mass to energy. c2 . Earlier. The development of nuclear weapons and of nuclear reactors has led to applications of this idea on a very large scale. have to be replaced by a single “Principle of Conservation of Mass-Energy”. Einstein was able to show that these two quantities are inter-convertible. of mass and of energy. and vice versa. because most systems that we have to deal with. It is valid at low speeds as well as at the highest speeds. Through the famous equation: E = mc2. which was derived from the relativistic effects on mass. have speeds far below the speed of light. the results of Relativistic and Newtonian Mechanics are virtually identical. we prefer to use that formulation in all such applications. and since equations of Newtonian Mechanics are much simpler to handle. involved in the equation means that the conversion of a very small amount of mass can result in the release of a massive amount of energy. It began in the year 1900 with the formulation of Planck’s Quantum hypothesis. it retains its immense usefulness for us even today. even missiles and space probes. yet another revolution the Quantum revolutionwas also underway in the world of Physics.

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