By H. A. Lorentz (auth.)
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Extra resources for Collected Papers: Volume VIII
HOW CAN ATOMS RADIATE? 29 spaces. It seems beyond doubt, that by such a diffusion the energy would soon become too dilute to eject an electron from an atom, for which adefinite amount of energy is required. So, one naturally came to the hypothesis of "light quanta", portians of energy concentrated in extremely small spaces and moving onward with the velocity of light. There can be no doubt as to the amount of energy which must be associated with such a quantum. e. to the number of vibrations per second, of the light considered.
I must confine myself to the general idea underlying the theory. When, following BoHR, we want to calculate the frequency of the radiation emitted by hydrogen, we proceed in three steps. First, we determine the motions, in elliptical or circular orbits, that are possible according to ordinary mechanics. Then, we select among all these motions those which satisfy certain quantum conditions; these are the stationary states. Finally, we fix our attention on one of the transitions of which I have spoken.
This old theory certainly had a great beauty though it must be owned that its success was largely due to the fact that, not knowing very much about the structure of atoms, physicists feit free to make, concerning the particles and the forces that act upon them, just the hypotheses that best suited their purpose. Let me give you one or two examples of what could be done with the theory and then point out to you its great failures. I may mention as a success the explanation of different phenomena by means of the principle of resos nance.