mystery

Quantum Theory – why do we ignore the mystery?

Isn’t it crazy that one of the most wonderful concepts in Physics – the dual nature of light – doesn’t get a better deal from the leaving cert physics syllabus?
Students are expected to know how to demonstrate that light is a wave, and also to be able to recall Einstein’s interpretation of the Photoelectric effect (which proved that light is a particle) but then there is nothing else about what is one of the greatest mysteries in Physics – how can light be both particle and wave?
Quantum Theory is one of the most popular concepts in popular science books, yet we leave it out altogether.
Isn’t there a responsibility on us as teachers to make our voices heard? Or is it the case that we don’t really care?
The following is a video taken during the Solvay Institute of 1927 – it helps to give some feel for the characters involved (see the Quantum Physics page of thephysicsteacher.ie for a link to this and other related videos).

This is one of my favourite videos on quantum theory – it emphasises the wonder, and that’s always a cool trick when introducing any new physics concept to students.

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