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Retrospect

The one hundred of a revolution

He did not want to create a revolution, in fact, he hated revolutions. A conservative, the German physicist Max Planck (1858-1947) liked old things, including Classical Physics, established during the 17th and 18th centuries by the Englishman Sir. Isaac Newton (1642-1727). It so happened that the researcher was determined to resolve a problem about black body radiation – but, for this, he had to propose the basis of a new set of physics laws. On the 14th of December 1900, Plank proposed that the change of energy between atoms and radiation was not of a continuous form, as was though up until then, but in small packets of energy baptized as quanta (the plural of quantum).

Against his own wishes, he had sparked off a revolution. In 1905, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) corroborated the Quantum Theory in suggesting the existence of a new particle, the photon, or that is, that light propagates through small packets idealized by Plank. From that point onwards there was a fever of ideas and discoveries from brilliant scientists which transformed physics into the most charming of the sciences of the century: Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, Louis de Broglie and, among the Brazilians, Cesar Lattes, José Leite Lopes and Jorge André Swieca.

Gigantic particle accelerators were constructed as were observatories to study radiation, such as the Pierre Auger which is being erected in Argentina. Now, 100 years after quantum theory, the Britisher Humphrey Maris has presented a paper affirming that the electron is divisible. Its a sign that everything might change yet again.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
His contributions to Plank’s Theory were fundamental. The hypothesis of the existence of the photon particle gave him a Nobel Prize.

Max Planck (1858-1947)
The German created the Quantum Theory which gave origin to the laser, the transmitter, the chip and to the photoelectric cell.

Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
The physicist introduced a probability interpretation into Quantum Physics, which always bothered both Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger.

Cesar Lattes (1924)
The Brazilian was one of the discoverers of the pi-meson in 1947, when he was only 23 years of age, a piece of work which ushered in the Physics of Particles.

Fermilab (1955)
The North American laboratory has gigantic particle accelerators used to study the structure of material within the nucleus of the atom. Its counterpart in Europe is the European Center of Particle Physics (Cern).

Jorge André Swieca (1930-1980)
A Brazilian born in Poland, he carried out fundamental research into quantic electrodynamics and the spontaneous breakdown of symmetries and exercised a strong influence on various generations of physicists.

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