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Check Your Understanding A molecule is vibrating at a frequency of 5.0 × 10 14 Hz . What is the smallest spacing between its vibrational energy levels?

3.3 × 10 −19 J

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Quantum theory applied to a classical oscillator

A 1.0-kg mass oscillates at the end of a spring with a spring constant of 1000 N/m. The amplitude of these oscillations is 0.10 m. Use the concept of quantization to find the energy spacing for this classical oscillator. Is the energy quantization significant for macroscopic systems, such as this oscillator?


We use [link] as though the system were a quantum oscillator, but with the frequency f of the mass vibrating on a spring. To evaluate whether or not quantization has a significant effect, we compare the quantum energy spacing with the macroscopic total energy of this classical oscillator.


For the spring constant, k = 1.0 × 10 3 N/m , the frequency f of the mass, m = 1.0 kg , is

f = 1 2 π k m = 1 2 π 1.0 × 10 3 N/m 1.0 kg 5.0 Hz

The energy quantum that corresponds to this frequency is

Δ E = h f = ( 6.626 × 10 −34 J · s ) ( 5.0 Hz ) = 3.3 × 10 −33 J

When vibrations have amplitude A = 0.10 m , the energy of oscillations is

E = 1 2 k A 2 = 1 2 ( 1000 N/m ) ( 0.1 m ) 2 = 5.0 J


Thus, for a classical oscillator, we have Δ E / E 10 −34 . We see that the separation of the energy levels is immeasurably small. Therefore, for all practical purposes, the energy of a classical oscillator takes on continuous values. This is why classical principles may be applied to macroscopic systems encountered in everyday life without loss of accuracy.

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Check Your Understanding Would the result in [link] be different if the mass were not 1.0 kg but a tiny mass of 1.0 µ g, and the amplitude of vibrations were 0.10 µ m?

No, because then Δ E / E 10 −21

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When Planck first published his result, the hypothesis of energy quanta was not taken seriously by the physics community because it did not follow from any established physics theory at that time. It was perceived, even by Planck himself, as a useful mathematical trick that led to a good theoretical “fit” to the experimental curve. This perception was changed in 1905 when Einstein published his explanation of the photoelectric effect, in which he gave Planck’s energy quantum a new meaning: that of a particle of light.


  • All bodies radiate energy. The amount of radiation a body emits depends on its temperature. The experimental Wien’s displacement law states that the hotter the body, the shorter the wavelength corresponding to the emission peak in the radiation curve. The experimental Stefan’s law states that the total power of radiation emitted across the entire spectrum of wavelengths at a given temperature is proportional to the fourth power of the Kelvin temperature of the radiating body.
  • Absorption and emission of radiation are studied within the model of a blackbody. In the classical approach, the exchange of energy between radiation and cavity walls is continuous. The classical approach does not explain the blackbody radiation curve.
  • To explain the blackbody radiation curve, Planck assumed that the exchange of energy between radiation and cavity walls takes place only in discrete quanta of energy. Planck’s hypothesis of energy quanta led to the theoretical Planck’s radiation law, which agrees with the experimental blackbody radiation curve; it also explains Wien’s and Stefan’s laws.

Conceptual questions

Which surface has a higher temperature – the surface of a yellow star or that of a red star?


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Describe what you would see when looking at a body whose temperature is increased from 1000 K to 1,000,000 K.

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Explain the color changes in a hot body as its temperature is increased.

goes from red to violet through the rainbow of colors

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Speculate as to why UV light causes sunburn, whereas visible light does not.

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Two cavity radiators are constructed with walls made of different metals. At the same temperature, how would their radiation spectra differ?

would not differ

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Discuss why some bodies appear black, other bodies appear red, and still other bodies appear white.

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If everything radiates electromagnetic energy, why can we not see objects at room temperature in a dark room?

human eye does not see IR radiation

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How much does the power radiated by a blackbody increase when its temperature (in K) is tripled?

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A 200-W heater emits a 1.5-µm radiation. (a) What value of the energy quantum does it emit? (b) Assuming that the specific heat of a 4.0-kg body is 0.83 kcal / kg · K , how many of these photons must be absorbed by the body to increase its temperature by 2 K? (c) How long does the heating process in (b) take, assuming that all radiation emitted by the heater gets absorbed by the body?

a. 0.81 eV; b. 2.1 × 10 23 ; c. 2 min 20 sec

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A 900-W microwave generator in an oven generates energy quanta of frequency 2560 MHz. (a) How many energy quanta does it emit per second? (b) How many energy quanta must be absorbed by a pasta dish placed in the radiation cavity to increase its temperature by 45.0 K? Assume that the dish has a mass of 0.5 kg and that its specific heat is 0.9 kcal / kg · K . (c) Assume that all energy quanta emitted by the generator are absorbed by the pasta dish. How long must we wait until the dish in (b) is ready?

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(a) For what temperature is the peak of blackbody radiation spectrum at 400 nm? (b) If the temperature of a blackbody is 800 K, at what wavelength does it radiate the most energy?

a. 7245 K; b. 3.62 μm

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The tungsten elements of incandescent light bulbs operate at 3200 K. At what frequency does the filament radiate maximum energy?

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Interstellar space is filled with radiation of wavelength 970 μ m. This radiation is considered to be a remnant of the “big bang.” What is the corresponding blackbody temperature of this radiation?

about 3 K

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The radiant energy from the sun reaches its maximum at a wavelength of about 500.0 nm. What is the approximate temperature of the sun’s surface?

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Questions & Answers

what is the difference between a molecule and atom
Natanim Reply
Atoms are single neutral particles. Molecules are neutral particles made of two or more atoms bonded together.
what I'd dynamic propulsion
Elias Reply
A body quadruples its momentum when its speed doubles.What was the initial speed in units of c.i.e..what was u/c ?
Lekshmi Reply
what is enthalpy?
prabir Reply
a thermodynamic quantity equivalent to the total heat content of a system
proparty of tharmo dainamic
What is the meaning of Nuclear Fission?
Benita Reply
what do you mean by dynamics single particles
Peacekamei Reply
عند قذف جسم إلى أعلى بسرعة إبتدائية فإنه سيصل إلى ارتفاع معين (أقصى ارتفاع) ثم يعود هابطاً نحو سطح الأرض .   إذا قُذِفَ جسم إلى أعلى ووجد أن سرعته 18 م / ث عندما قطع 1/4 المسافة التي تمثل أقصى ارتفاع سيصله فالمطلوب إيجاد السرعة التي قُذِف بها بالمتر / ث . إن هذه السرعة هي واحدة من الإجابات التالية
Aml Reply
what is light
Ayebanifesunday Reply
light is a kind of radiation That stimulates sight brightness a source of illumination.
Electromagnet radiation creates space 7th, 8th, and 9th dimensions at the rate of c.
That is the reason that the speed of light is constant.
This creation of new space is "Dark Energy".
The first two sets of three dimensions, 1 through 6, are "Dark Matter".
As matter decays into luminous matter, a proton, a neutron, and an electron creat deuterium.
There are three sets of three protons, 9.
There are three sets of three neutrons, 9.
A free neutron decays into a proton, an electron, and a neutrino.
There are three sets of five neutrinoes, 15.
Neutrinoes are two dimensional.
A positron is composed of the first three dimensions.
An electron is composed of the second three dimensions.
What is photoelectric
Hsssan Reply
light energy (photons) through semiconduction of N-P junction into electrical via excitation of silicon purified and cristalized into wafers with partially contaminated silicon to allow this N-P function to operate.
i.e. Solar pannel.
Photoelectric emission is the emission of electrons on a metal surface due to incident rays reflected on it
If you lie on a beach looking at the water with your head tipped slightly sideways, your polarized sunglasses do not work very well.Why not?
Rakhi Reply
it has everything to do with the angle the UV sunlight strikes your sunglasses.
this is known as optical physics. it describes how visible light, ultraviolet light and infrared light interact when they come into contact with physical matter. usually the photons or light upon interaction result in either reflection refraction diffraction or interference of the light.
I hope I'm clear if I'm not please tell me to clarify further or rephrase
what is bohrs model for hydrogen atom
Swagatika Reply
what is the value of speed of light
Propessor Reply
1.79×10_¹⁹ km per hour
what r dwarf planet
Sivalakshmi Reply
what is energy
Isiguzo Reply
কাজের একক কী
কাজের একক কী
Energy is ability so capacity to do work.
friction ka direction Kaise pata karte hai
Rahul Reply
friction is always in the opposite of the direction of moving object
Practice Key Terms 9

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Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 3. OpenStax CNX. Nov 04, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12067/1.4
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