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James Jeans

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The classical mechanics had envisaged the world constructed of matter and radiation, the matter consisting of atoms and the radiation of waves. Plank's theory called for an atomicity of radiation similar to that which was so well established for matter. It supposed that radiation was not discharged from matter in a steady stream like water from a hose, but rather like lead from a machine-gun; it came off in separate chunks which Plank called quanta. This... carried tremendous philosophical consequences.

 
James Jeans

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Heisenberg finds that facts of observation lead uniquely and inevitably to the theoretical structure known as matrix mechanics. This shows that the total radiation in any region of empty space can change only by a single complete quantum at a time. Thus not only in the photo-electric phenomenon, but in all other transfers of energy through space, energy is always transferred by complete quanta; fractions of a quantum can never occur. This brings atomicity into our picture of radiation just as definitely as the discovery of the electron and its standard charge brought atomicity into our picture of matter and of electricity.

 
James Jeans
 

First we notice an investigation which Prof. Plank of Berlin published in 1899. His aim was that it should fit the observed facts of radiation, and show why the energy of bodies was not wholly transformed into radiation. ...his investigation seemed to show that continuity had to be given up, suggesting that in the last resort changes in the universe do not consist of continuous motions in space and time, but in some way are discontinuous.

 
James Jeans
 

I'll be philosophical. Until about two billion years ago, it was impossible to have any life on earth; that is, there was so much radiation on earth you couldn't have any life — fish or anything. Gradually, about two billion years ago, the amount of radiation on this planet—and probably in the entire system—reduced and made it possible for some form of life to begin... Now when we go back to using nuclear power, we are creating something which nature tried to destroy to make life possible... Every time you produce radiation, you produce something that has a certain half-life, in some cases for billions of years. I think the human race is going to wreck itself, and it is important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it... I do not believe that nuclear power is worth it if it creates radiation. Then you might ask me why do I have nuclear powered ships. That is a necessary evil. I would sink them all. Have I given you an answer to your question?

 
Hyman G. Rickover
 

Precisely similar ideas are applicable to the molecules that form the air in a room. ...The classical mechanics now predicts that the whole energy of motion will be changed into radiation [heat], so that the molecules will shortly be found lying at rest on the floor... In actual fact they continue to move with undiminished energy, forming a perpetual-motion machine in defiance of classical mechanics. ...We have passed from one to another of three worlds... from the man-sized world to the world of the electron.

 
James Jeans
 

Before the quantum theory appeared, the principle of the uniformity of nature - that like causes produce like effects - had been accepted as a universal and indisputable fact of science. As soon as the atomicity of radiation became established, this principle had to be discarded.

 
James Jeans
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