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6.1: Outline

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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1. What is modern physics?What is quantum mechanics and why did it develop? What part of physics was not complete? What is relativity and why did it develop? What part of physics was not complete?

Question 1 How do you see?

Question 2. Why can’t we see atoms? Objects are made of atoms and light is reflecting off of them, right? Why don’t we see the little balls that make up the object?

Question 3. So how do we know atoms exist?

Question 4. How do we know the basic structure of an atom?

Question 5. How do we know there are electrons? Is it the same experiment as for the nucleus?

Question 6. Why are there neutrons in the nucleus with the protons?

Question 7. What are quarks and how do they play a role inside the atom?

Question 8. What are alpha particles and where do we get them?

Question 9. What really is radioactivity? Why do some elements emit or “put off” streams of alpha particles? Do any elements emit particles other than alpha particles?

Question 10. What is Quantum Mechanics and why did it develop? What part of physics was not complete?

Question 11. What is the photoelectric effect? What does it mean to say that matter has wave-like properties?

Question 12. What is Relativity and why did it develop? What part of physics was not complete?

2. What parts of modern physics are still being researched?

Question 13 : What can be considered the big problem facing physicists today?

3. What are the implications of some of Modern Physics (including nanoscience, dark matter, black holes, parallel universes, and the graviton)?

Question 14 : What are some of the implications of quantum mechanics and relativity? In the news there is mention of string theory, black holes, parallel universes, and other bizarre things.

This chapter has been written as a series of questions in the effort to lead you through an understanding of how modern physics came about, some of its components, some of the still lingering problems in its theories, and some of its implications. This is by no means an exhaustive discussion and you are urged to read further and go deeper by asking experts.

“What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school—and you think I’m going to explain it to you so you can understand it? No, you’re not going to be able to understand it. Why, then, am I going to bother you with all this? Why are you going to sit here all this time, when you won’t be able to understand what I am going to say? It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don’t understand it. You see, my physics students don’t understand it either. That is because I don’t understand it. Nobody does.” (Feynman“QED”)

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