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The 2005 World Year of Physics

What is a World Year of Physics? And Why 2005?

The international Physics community has decided to take
this opportunity to celebrate the centennial of a rather
significant leap in Man's understanding of the world.  In
1905, a young Albert Einstein wrote a series of scientific
papers which "changed everything."  If any young physicist
had written any one of these papers, it would have been
a remarkable acheivement.  For one person to write all of
them is a singular event.  By highlighting this important
year of creativity, Physics hopes to bring attention to 
the world what it is that Physics does and what we 
understand of the world around us and the universe in 
general.

The Birth of Modern Physics

Much of what we teach in the introductory Physics courses
is considered Classical Physics.  The principles of
Mechanics -- the study of motion -- are firmly rooted in 
the Physics of the 17th and 18th centuries.  Electricty &
Magnetism, as well as the study of Thermodynamics -- heat 
and engines -- were well understood by the 19th century.

But there were flaws, problems which could not be solved or
addressed by Classical Physics, even as late 19th century
physicists suggested that an "End of Physics" was near -- 
that we had learned everything there was to know.  Quite a 
claim, considering the atom was not understood, nuclear
physics was barely begun and we really had no good idea how
large the universe really was.

The X-ray was discovered in 1895 and the electron in 1897.
By 1900, Max Planck had proposed a quantum theory which
suggested that some physics quantities had to come in discrete
bundles, rather than taking on any possible value.  How all 
this fit into the world was not, however, yet understood.
Rather than an "End of Physics", an entire new world of the
very large, the very small and the very fast was unfolding in
what eventually would become called Modern Physics.  A great
deal of our modern technological society depends on the 
understanding of the principles of Modern Physics, from
medical X-rays and nuclear power, to semi-conductor microchips,
lasers, superconductors and Global Positioning Satellites.

So what we are celebrating in this 2005 World Year of Physics
is the jumpstart Albert Einstein's 1905 work gave to the field
of Modern Physics and to our modern world.  

More Details "Coming Soon"


Last Update: 20 October 2004.Wednesday