Next: The Ultraviolet Catastrophe
Physicists at the end of the nineteenth century believed that most of
the fundamental physical laws had been worked out. They expected only
minor refinements to get ``an extra decimal place'' of accuracy. As
it turns out, the field of physics was transformed profoundly in the
early twentieth century by Einstein's discovery of relativity and by
the development of quantum mechanics. While relativity has had fairly
little impact on chemistry, all of theoretical chemistry is founded
upon quantum mechanics.
The development of quantum mechanics was initially motivated by two
observations which demonstrated the inadeqacy of classical physics.
These are the ``ultraviolet catastrophe'' and the photoelectric