The Importance Of Physics In The World

1743 Words 7 Pages
No one would have believed, in the last years of the 19th century, that physics was heading for a crisis. It seemed like all the large questions had been answered. The behaviour of bodies, from asteroids to galaxies, was predicted by Sir Isaac Newton 's laws of gravity and motion. Magnetism, electricity and light were linked by James Clerk Maxwell’s Equations. The understanding of the atom had reached the plum pudding stage, where an atom was a globe of 'stuff ' with the positive and negative charges speckled throughout. Physicists were confident that all the important things had been discovered, and the future lay only in defining these discoveries more precisely. But the cracks were beginning to appear; something was about to go horribly wrong…
To understand why physics went wrong and what all the fuss is
…show more content…
I was ready to sacrifice any of my previous convictions about physics.” Why was Planck so upset?
We’re going to leave an upset Planck temporarily to look at analogies. The next ‘extra for experts’ section uses one and we just want to get in a warning about them.
An analogy is a description in terms of everyday things that you already know about. We are going to compare light waves to the waves in water. This is obviously not the way it really is, but it gives us a handle for our imagination to hang on to. Physicists do this all the time, it’s just that their analogies are more complex, and more explanatory than entertaining.
Warning: While analogies can be very helpful, they can also be dangerous if we do not understand that they are not the real thing! Analogies can break down and it might not be obvious that they have done so. They might lead to interpreting an experiment in the wrong way, for instance, so that the truth is not seen for what it is. We will see a lot of this. So analogies should come with a disclaimer:
Warning Warning

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