Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

General audience physics books

  1. Feb 23, 2010 #1
    Everytime I pick up a general audience modern physics book, written by some phd professor, I keep bumping into the whole "electron orbiting around proton" bohr model, even though we know for nearly 100 years that bohr model is incorrect.
    But why do the authors (PROFESSORS) keep bringing this old model up, rather than talk about more accurate "superposition" theory?? Would it involve too much to explain for an average person what is superposition?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 23, 2010 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Professors need to publish, unfortunately they don't need to publish anything of merit, they just need to get someone to publish it.
  4. Feb 23, 2010 #3
    It's easier for people to believe, easier to visualize, easier to explain and can still be used to derive a fair amount of useful results.
  5. Feb 24, 2010 #4
    but even though its easier to believe and some results can be derived from the bohr model, doesn't make it a good idea to teach, or to represent it in the book..
    Just like if astronomy teachers taught the class the geocentic model, because its easier to believe that the sun is going around the earth.
    And visualisation is completely wrong as well. The electron cloud have nothing to do with an electron orbiting the nuclei..

    I'm not trying to agrue, just throwing some thoughts out there :) Maybe something useful is going to come out my rambling lol
  6. Feb 24, 2010 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I too think the Bohr model is completely appropriate for discussion in a general audience book, so long as it comes with the explicit caveat that there are much better models out there that fix the problems (such as blah1, blah2, ...) with the Bohr picture.
  7. Feb 24, 2010 #6

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    No model is totally correct. The Bohr model is useful in that it allows for a visual handle on the very important concept of energy levels. The first person to recognize the failing of the Bohr model was Bohr himself, about two seconds after he thought of it. The fact that it remains in just about all textbooks today speaks to its value as a step to understanding the complexity of the atomic model.

    As was stated, as long as the author at least footnotes the fact that the electrons don't actually orbit the nucleus, I personally don't see it as a problem. That might be because I teach elementary physics, and everything I teach is "slightly wrong."
  8. Feb 24, 2010 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Most physics books for a general audience are as much about the history of the subject as they are about current knowledge. Bohr's model played an important role in the development of quantum mechanics, and many aspects of it are easy to understand. So it plays a natural role in the "story" those books present.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook