Talk:The Development of Our Views on the Composition and Essence of Radiation

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Information about this edition
Edition: The original title is Über die Entwicklung unserer Anschauungen über das Wesen und die Konstitution der Strahlung.
Talk given on 21 September 1909 to the Versammlung Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte (Meeting of German Scientists and Physicians) in Salzburg.
Source: Physikalische Zeitschrift, 10, 817-825 (1909).
Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, Verhandlungen 7, 482-500 (1909).
Contributor(s): WillowW. Translated by WillowW and released into the public domain. Suggestions for improving the translation are always welcome. :)
Level of progress: Text completed and proofread by contributor 75%.svg
Notes: Not checked.

This wonderful talk by Einstein is not as widely known as it should be, which is why I translated it. It gives an excellent historical summary of the theories of light, as well as a still-relevant derivation of the radiation pressure fluctuations due to wave and particle natures of light. An excellent text for undergraduates (even graduates) learning quantum physics.

A few cool features to think about:

  • Einstein proposes the general principle that all elementary physical processes should exist in time-reversed form, e.g., emission and absorption should exist as time-reversed elementary processes.
  • Photons are themselves massless, but they convey mass from the emitting atom to the absorbing atom. Cool, no?
  • Is there any kind of non-linear electrodynamics that would mimick Maxwell's equations and yet give "wavicle" solutions like those described by Einstein at the very end? Probably someone has worked on this problem in the last ~100 years, but I'm not enough of physicist to know the literature.

This translation of Einstein's talk Über die Entwicklung unserer Anschauungen über das Wesen und die Konstitution der Strahlung (1909) is released into the public domain. Use it well. WillowW 10:43, 7 July 2006 (UTC)