Unit 5D  Turning Points in Physics

This module looks at some of the most significant historical developments that have made Physics the subject it is today.  Physicists in those days were working with primitive technology compared to those of today.  Some of the ideas hold true today, while others were plain wrong.  Many of the experiments we will look at led to the fundamental concepts which we take for granted in not just Physics, but many other applications.  The quantum nature of light and other materials is important for us to see objects, such as the computer screen on which these notes were written.

While some of the ideas we explore may seem outdated or even eccentric, they were the truth to the best of the knowledge and belief.  Changing people's ideas is not always easy, especially as some of the protagonists were pretty stubborn.  We also explore an experiment that give no results at all, but was fundamental to our understanding of the physics of light.

This option also revises much of the material covered in Units 1 and 2, which you may wish to do before you start studying these notes.

Fundamental Charges

Tutorial 1 Charge to Mass Ratio Go
Tutorial 2 Millikan's Experiment Go

Light - Particle or Wave?

Tutorial 3 Is Light a Wave? Go
Tutorial 4 Is Light a Particle? Go

Relativity

Tutorial 5 Basic Relativity Go
Tutorial 6 Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity Go
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