• Lev I. Deych


In 1890, Scots-Irish physicist Lord Kelvin (born William Thomson, knighted in 1866 by Queen Victoria for his work on transatlantic telegraph, ennobled in 1892 for his achievements in thermodynamics, and became the first British scientist elevated to the House of Lords of the British Parliament) gave his famous speech identifying only two “clouds” in the clear sky of classical physics. One of them was the problem of luminous ether undetected in the series of experiments carried out between 1881 and 1887 by Americans Albert Michelson and Edward Morley, and the second one was the problem of the black-body radiation. Classical physics predicted that the amount of electromagnetic energy emitted by warm bodies increases with a decreased wavelength of radiation, making the total emitted energy infinite. This problem was dubbed an ultraviolet catastrophe by Paul Ehrenfest in 1911. As it turned out, both these little clouds spelled the end of the classical physics: the first of them resulted in the special relativity theory, and the solution of the second one achieved by German Physicist Max Planck laid the first stone in the foundation of quantum physics.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lev I. Deych
    • 1
  1. 1.Physics Department, Queens College and the Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations