Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
Physics developed steadily after the introduction of Isaac Newton’s ideas in the 1600s and had made great progress by the nineteenth century. People really felt the impact of this knowledge when the Industrial Revolution was made possible by the application of everything that scientists had learned about mechanical forces, gravity, electricity, magnetism, heat, light, and sound.
By the late nineteenth century, scientists felt that all of this understanding of physics formed a framework that could describe the world very deeply and thoroughly. Still, there were some nagging inconsistencies between theoretical calculations and experimental data, which were acknowledged by Lord Kelvin (who formulated the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics) in his 1900 lecture titled “Nineteenth-Century Clouds over the Dynamical Theory of Heat and Light.” The two “dark clouds” to which he was alluding were the unsatisfactory explanations that the physics of the time could give for the constancy of the speed of light, as well as for the glow produced by a hot body.
What is now known as “modern physics” was born from the two major physical theories that were developed during the twentieth century to resolve these two “dark clouds”: for the former, the Theory of Relativity; for the latter, quantum mechanics.
The shift caused by modern physics was dramatic, because new concepts showed aspects of ...