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By Rachel Ruth Comroe

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In 1911, the British physicist Charles Barkla noticed that each metal produced x-rays of a particular wavelength, called characteristic x-rays of a particular metal and called the more penetrating beam K x-rays and, the less penetrating beam L x-rays. Subsequently, it was discovered that these characteristic x-rays emitted by metals are due to the deexcitation of electrons in the atomic shells. 3 Electron Following the discovery of cathode rays and radiowaves, the Dutch physicist Hendrick Antoon Lorentz, refined Maxwell’s equations, and developed a new theory, called electron theory.

In 1801, Thomas Young, an English physicist, showed that the different colors of the spectrum have different wavelengths; red has longer wavelength (700 nm) than violet (400 nm). Since electromagnetic radiation travels with the same speed as light, in 1864, Maxwell was able to conclude that light is an electromagnetic radiation with certain wavelengths. His equations also suggested that there are many more varieties of electromagnetic radiations, differing only in their wavelengths. Maxwell theory predicted that radiations of different wave lengths, which our eyes can not see, can exist.

1 Heat, Energy and Temperature Two different doctrines developed in the eighteenth century helped to explain the nature of heat and to establish units for the quantity of heat, separate from that of temperature. According to one, theory heat is a substance with or without mass (or weight) while the other theory suggests that heat is a type of motion or vibration. The Scotch physician Joseph Black regarded heat as a substance and called it calor. He defined the unit of heat as the amount necessary to raise the temperature of 1 lb of 16 water by 1°F.

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