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How Maxwell's theory of radiation could not explain atomic spectra?

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Jan15-04, 10:56 AM
PF Gold
P: 8,147
You're absolutely right that the Maxwell-Boltzman distribution was used by Planck. The oscillators in Plack's version were to be in thermal equilibrium, so their energies would follow that distibution. And the path from that to the radiation distribution, while not as trivial as you make it seem, was straightforward.

Planck was not a great mathematician, he was a great physicist. And the replacement of the material in the cavity walls with oscillators was a physical idea, not a mathematical one. If you focus on the cavity being able to maintain thermodynamic equilibrium over a period of time, which your cloud could not because of radiation will show you why the cavity is superior. Every bit of radiation produced in one part of the wall of the cavity is absorbed in some other part of the wall. Has to be, by geometry, no place else to go. So absorption = radiation over time, producing a stable distribution for the radiation.
Feb4-04, 07:18 AM
Hydr0matic's Avatar
P: 199
A very good article about this subject:

which your cloud could not because of radiation
And where does the radiation go if the "cloud" covers the entire universe ?

no place else to go
The energy could still make it's way out through the walls, right ?

The cavity is not superior

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