CH301H - Principles of Chemistry I: Honors
Fall 2011, Unique 51040


Lecture Summary, 20 September 2011

Waves:  We briefly reviewed reviewed the basics of waves: waves are disturbances that propagate through space and time that transfer energy from one point to another but without causing a permanent change in the position of any mass.  They are described by a wavelength and an amplitude about an undisturbed state.  Places where amplitude is zero are called nodes.   The frequency of a wave is described by the number of observed peaks in one second, which is given the unit s-1, or Hz.  The speed of the wave is always equal to its wavelength times its frequency.  For light waves, the speed of light in a vacuum is 3.0 x 108 m/s.  

Development of quantum mechanics:  We discussed the state of physics at the end of the 19th century, and the accumulated experimental evidence that indicated that something major was missing from the current understanding of physics (now called "classical" physics).  Three major problems that could not be explained at the time were:

     1.  The existence of a stable atom
     2.  Blackbody radiation
     3.  The photoelectric effect

In 1901, Max Planck attempted to deal with these problems by introducing that idea that energy is quantized, or that it comes in discrete packets, not spread out over a continuum.  This is a concept which is completely at odds with classical mechanics, but it seemed to describe experimental data of blackbody radiation and the photoelectric effect.  Planck did not describe why energy was quantized, nor was he able to explain the stable atom.  That remains for our future.  

As an aside, I recommend you check out the physics demonstration website I have been using in class:

University of Colorodo's PhET website

There are tons of interactive, fun, free simulations of all sorts of concepts from physics, chemistry, biology, math, and beyond.