Spectroscopy and Quantum Mechanics

This series of installments from David Ball’s excellent “Baseline” column discusses the relevance of quantum mechanics for spectroscopy and why it is important for spectroscopists to know the basics.

Spectroscopy Is Applied Quantum Mechanics, Part IV: Ideal Systems

By David W. Ball

Quantum mechanics is still the most useful theory of the behavior of the atomic level to date. This article reviews the ideal systems whose wavefunctions can be determined exactly using the Schrödinger equations.

Spectroscopy Is Applied Quantum Mechanics, Part III: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

By David W. Ball

It took just over 25 years for the scientific community to unravel the nature of subatomic behavior, from Planck’s quantum theory in 1900 to Erwin Schrödinger’s work in 1926. Here is the story of Schrödinger’s pioneering work on wave mechanics and the basis of the modern understanding of subatomic behavior.

Spectroscopy Is Applied Quantum Mechanics, Part II: The Quantum Revolution

By David W. Ball

Phenomena such as blackbody radiation, spectroscopy (particularly that of hydrogen), the photoelectric effect, and low-temperature heat capacities were a puzzle to the scientists of the 19th century, and the theories of that time did not explain these behaviors completely. Here is how Max Planck, a German thermodynamicist, developed a new theory to help address this problem.

Spectroscopy Is Applied Quantum Mechanics, Part I: The Need for Quantum Mechanics

By David W. Ball

If theory doesn’t agree with nature, there are two choices: change the theory, or change nature. We can’t change nature, so the theory must be changed. Here is a discussion of the failures of classical mechanics that necessitated the development of a new theory of nature.

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