Annus Mirabilis. 1905 – The Miracle Year in Physics. Christian Educators Annual Fall Conference October 2005 Dr. Brian Martin – The King’s University College, Edmonton. From March to September 1905, Albert Einstein published 5 papers that have transformed physics in profound ways…. March
1905 – The Miracle Year in Physics
Christian Educators Annual Fall Conference
Dr. Brian Martin – The King’s University College, Edmonton
From March to September 1905, Albert Einstein published 5 papers that have transformed physics in profound ways…
“On a Heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”
(Annalen der Physik 17:132-148)
THERE exists an essential formal difference between the theoretical
pictures physicists have drawn of gases and other ponderable
bodies and Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetic processes in
so-called empty space. Whereas we assume the state of a body to
be completely determined by the positions and velocities of an,’
albeit very large, still finite number of atoms and electrons, we use
for the determination of the electromagnetic state in space con-
tinuous spatial functions, so that a finite number of variables
cannot be considered to be sufficient to fix completely the electro-
magnetic state in space. According to Maxwell’s theory, the
energy must be considered to be a continuous function in space
for all purely electromagnetic phenomena, thus also for light,
while according to the present-day ideas of physicists the energy
of a ponderable body can be written as a sum over the atoms and
electrons. The energy of a ponderable body cannot be split into
arbitrarily many, arbitrarily small parts, while the energy of a
light ray, emitted by a point source of light is according to
Maxwell’s theory (or in general according to any wave theory) of
light distributed continuously over an ever increasing volume.
Established light as a quantum of energy – led to the
wave-particle duality that is central to quantum mechanics.
*awarded reluctantly in 1923 because none had been given in 1921!
"The Determination of Molecular Dimensions".
(Annalen der Physik 19:289-305)
One of the first theoretical methods to determine
the sizes of molecules and atoms.
On the Movement of Small Particles Suspended in Stationary Liquids Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat"
(Annalen der Physik 17:549-560)
Provided an almost iron-clad demonstration of
the existence of atoms. Considered to be one
of the truly great papers of the early 20th Century.
"On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies"
(Annalen der Physik 17:891-921)
Introduced the Special Theory of Relativity and
irrevocably changed our understanding of space
"Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon its Energy Content?“
(Annalen der Physik 18:639-641)
E = mc2
Established the fundamental unity between matter and
The main ideas of special relativity can be taught with the minimum of mathematics. You don’t need to feel like a “yo-yo”!
Einstein can be Simplified!
Sam and Sally have a dispute! Sam is riding in the middle of a
long train moving due east while Sally is sitting close to the
tracks on the train platform. At the exact instant that Sam passes
Sally, two lightning bolts strike each end of the train. Both Sam
and Sally see the bolts at the same instant. Scorch marks
are left on both the track and the train to prove it happened!
Sam concludes that they must have occurred simultaneously.
He remarks to Sally when they next meet how
improbable that was. Sally retorts that they weren't simultaneous at all,
and that she can prove it! Who is correct?