Q:

What is the ultraviolet catastrophe?

A:

Quick Answer

The term "ultraviolet catastrophe" refers to a paradox that emerged in scientists' understanding of the way light is emitted by black bodies that exist in thermal equilibrium. According to the classical understanding of physics, a body that emits radiation at the same value it absorbs it from outside sources must emit radiation at ever-higher intensities as the wavelength shortens.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

The 19th-century understanding of physics reached an impasse around 1900 when it proved inadequate to explain the way light is emitted from objects. Under the classical model, an object in thermal equilibrium emits radiation of a given intensity at all possible wavelengths. As the frequency of the emitted light increases near the ultraviolet end of the spectrum, so do the wavelengths of light that must be emitted to match classical models. Eventually, the model predicts that black bodies should radiate infinite energy at high frequency.

A finite body cannot radiate infinite energy. This seeming paradox was eventually resolved by Max Planck. Planck reasoned that the problem of infinite radiation from a finite source would disappear if atoms were limited in the range of energy they were allowed to emit. He proposed that light could not be emitted arbitrarily, but only in discreet packets, which he called quanta. This was one of the first insights into what would come to be known as quantum physics.

Learn more about Colors

Related Questions

  • Q:

    Are burgundy and maroon the same color?

    A:

    Maroon and burgundy are terms for separate colors in the same color family. Both maroon and burgundy are dark, cool reds. However, burgundy is based on the color of French wine and is a darker, grayish red, while maroon is based on the color of chestnut shells and is brownish.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Where can you find Jade color chart?

    A:

    Jade color charts can be found at the website Mason-Kay, and at Lotusgemology.com. The chart at Lotus Gemology focuses on the more valuable green-hued pieces of jade, while Mason-Kay's chart contains the full range of possible jadeite colors.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the wavelengths of the colors of the rainbow?

    A:

    The wavelengths of the colors of the rainbow range from 390 nanometers to 780 nanometers. There are wavelengths that are lower or higher than those in the visible spectrum, and several types of radiation are simply light waves with other wavelengths.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What does the color purple stand for?

    A:

    The color purple has different meanings in countries, cultures and communities around the world. In the U.S. military, the Purple Heart represents bravery and is given to soldiers who are injured in the line of duty.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore