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For the Public - High Energy Physics Tour

Quantum Theory

The way in which everyday objects move about can ultimately be explained and predicted by a well-known set of rules known as Newton's laws of motion. All the everyday electrical and magnetic phenomena we see and experience can be explained by a set of equations known as Maxwell's equations. And energy adn heat phenomena we take for granted fall into the study of thermodynamics. These are the main focus in almost all introductory physics classes in high school and college. However, at the end of the 19th century several problems arose that could not be explained by classical physics (Newton's laws, Maxwell's equations and thermodynamics). Something new had to come about that could explain these new observations that occur at the atomic level. The new theory began to be developed in 1900 by the German physicist Max Planck, and it is known as quantum theory. This page will focus on the basic ideas that Planck and others began to use to explain a very differnet world, which is the world where individual atoms and subatomic particles live.

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