Albion College

Mathematics and Computer Science

Mathematics and Computer Science

COLLOQUIUM

Planck's Unphysical Assumption: The Discretization that Began the Quantum Revolution

Aaron Miller

Assistant Professor

Physics

Albion College

Assistant Professor

Physics

Albion College

In this talk I will present a portion of the monumental work of Max Planck in his study of the thermal equilibrium between physical solids and radiation fields. In his work, Planck turned a single integral into a summation in order to get his model to match laboratory measurements. This mathematical assumption was profoundly unsatisfying (from a physical point of view) and Planck only intended it to stay in physics until a more satisfactory theory was developed. However, his assumption has born the test of experiment and spawned the field of "quantum mechanics," easily argued as the most successful physical theory in the history of physics.