Image of Becquerel's photographic plate which has been fogged by exposure to radiation from a uranium salt. The shadow of a metal Maltese Cross placed between the plate and the uranium salt is clearly visible.
1877 – Boltzmann suggests that the energy levels of a physical system could be discrete based on statistical mechanics and mathematical arguments; also produces the first circle diagram representation, or atomic model of a molecule (such as an iodine gas molecule) in terms of the overlapping terms α and β, later (in 1928) called molecular orbitals, of the constituting atoms.
1887 – Heinrich Hertz discovers the photoelectric effect, shown by Einstein in 1905 to involve quanta of light.
1888 – Hertz demonstrates experimentally that electromagnetic waves exist, as predicted by Maxwell.
1888 – Johannes Rydberg modifies the Balmer formula to include all spectral series of lines for the hydrogen atom, producing the Rydberg formula which is employed later by Niels Bohr and others to verify Bohr's first quantum model of the atom.
1896 – Antoine Henri Becquerel accidentally discovers radioactivity while investigating the work of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen; he finds that uranium salts emit radiation that resembled Röntgen's X-rays in their penetrating power. In one experiment, Becquerel wraps a sample of a phosphorescent substance, potassium uranyl sulfate, in photographic plates surrounded by very thick black paper in preparation for an experiment with bright sunlight; then, to his surprise, the photographic plates are already exposed before the experiment starts, showing a projected image of his sample.
1896-1897 Marie Curie (née Skłodowska, Becquerel's doctoral student) investigates uranium salt samples using a very sensitive electrometer device that was invented 15 years before by her husband and his brother Jacques Curie to measure electrical charge. She discovers that rays emitted by the uranium salt samples make the surrounding air electrically conductive, and measures the emitted rays' intensity. In April 1898, through a systematic search of substances, she finds that thorium compounds, like those of uranium, emitted "Becquerel rays", thus preceding the work of Frederick Soddy and Ernest Rutherford on the nuclear decay of thorium to radium by three years.
1897 – J. J. Thomson's experimentation with cathode rays led him to suggest a fundamental unit more than a 1,000 times smaller than an atom, based on the high charge-to-mass ratio. He called the particle a "corpuscle", but later scientists preferred the term electron.
1897 - Physicist, Joseph Larmor, created the first solar system model of the atom in 1897. He also postulated the proton, calling it a “positive electron.” He said the destruction of this type of atom making up matter “is an occurrence of infinitely small probability.”
1900 – To explain black-body radiation (1862), Max Planck suggests that electromagnetic energy could only be emitted in quantized form, i.e. the energy could only be a multiple of an elementary unit E = hν, where h is Planck's constant and ν is the frequency of the radiation.
1902 – To explain the octet rule (1893), Gilbert N. Lewis develops the "cubical atom" theory in which electrons in the form of dots are positioned at the corner of a cube. Predicts that single, double, or triple "bonds" result when two atoms are held together by multiple pairs of electrons (one pair for each bond) located between the two atoms.
1903 – Antoine Becquerel, Pierre Curie and Marie Curie share the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on spontaneous radioactivity.
1904 – Richard Abegg notes the pattern that the numerical difference between the maximum positive valence, such as +6 for H2SO4, and the maximum negative valence, such as −2 for H2S, of an element tends to be eight (Abegg's rule).
1905 – Albert Einstein explains the photoelectric effect (reported in 1887 by Heinrich Hertz), i.e. that shining light on certain materials can function to eject electrons from the material. He postulates, as based on Planck's quantum hypothesis (1900), that light itself consists of individual quantum particles (photons).
1907 to 1917 – Ernest Rutherford: To test his planetary model of 1904, later known as the Rutherford model, he sent a beam of positively charged alpha particles onto a gold foil and noticed that some bounced back, thus showing that an atom has a small-sized positively charged atomic nucleus at its center. However, he received in 1908 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances", which followed on the work of Marie Curie, not for his planetary model of the atom; he is also widely credited with first "splitting the atom" in 1917. In 1911 Ernest Rutherford explained the Geiger–Marsden experiment by invoking a nuclear atom model and derived the Rutherford cross section.
A schematic diagram of the apparatus for Millikan's refined oil drop experiment.
1911 – Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn perform an experiment that shows that the energies of electrons emitted by beta decay had a continuous rather than discrete spectrum. This is in apparent contradiction to the law of conservation of energy, as it appeared that energy was lost in the beta decay process. A second problem is that the spin of the Nitrogen-14 atom was 1, in contradiction to the Rutherford prediction of ½. These anomalies are later explained by the discoveries of the neutrino and the neutron.
1911 – Ștefan Procopiu performs experiments in which he determines the correct value of electron's magnetic dipole moment, μB = 9.27×10−21 erg·Oe−1 (in 1913 he is also able to calculate a theoretical value of the Bohr magneton based on Planck's quantum theory).
1912 – Henri Poincaré publishes an influential mathematical argument in support of the essential nature of energy quanta.
1913 – Robert Andrews Millikan publishes the results of his "oil drop" experiment, in which he precisely determines the electric charge of the electron. Determination of the fundamental unit of electric charge makes it possible to calculate the Avogadro constant (which is the number of atoms or molecules in one mole of any substance) and thereby to determine the atomic weight of the atoms of each element.
1913 – Ștefan Procopiu publishes a theoretical paper with the correct value of the electron's magnetic dipole moment μB.
1913 – Niels Bohr obtains theoretically the value of the electron's magnetic dipole moment μB as a consequence of his atom model
1913 – Johannes Stark and Antonino Lo Surdo independently discover the shifting and splitting of the spectral lines of atoms and molecules due to the presence of the light source in an external static electric field.
1913 – To explain the Rydberg formula (1888), which correctly modeled the light emission spectra of atomic hydrogen, Bohr hypothesizes that negatively charged electrons revolve around a positively charged nucleus at certain fixed "quantum" distances and that each of these "spherical orbits" has a specific energy associated with it such that electron movements between orbits requires "quantum" emissions or absorptions of energy.
1916 – To account for the Zeeman effect (1896), i.e. that atomic absorption or emission spectral lines change when the light source is subjected to a magnetic field, Arnold Sommerfeld suggests there might be "elliptical orbits" in atoms in addition to spherical orbits.
1919 – Building on the work of Lewis (1916), Irving Langmuir coins the term "covalence" and postulates that coordinate covalent bonds occur when two electrons of a pair of atoms come from both atoms and are equally shared by them, thus explaining the fundamental nature of chemical bonding and molecular chemistry.
1921–1922 – Frederick Soddy receives the Nobel Prize for 1921 in Chemistry one year later, in 1922, "for his contributions to our knowledge of the chemistry of radioactive substances, and his investigations into the origin and nature of isotopes"; he writes in his Nobel Lecture of 1922: "The interpretation of radioactivity which was published in 1903 by Sir Ernest Rutherford and myself ascribed the phenomena to the spontaneous disintegration of the atoms of the radio-element, whereby a part of the original atom was violently ejected as a radiant particle, and the remainder formed a totally new kind of atom with a distinct chemical and physical character."
1922 – Bohr updates his model of the atom to better explain the properties of the periodic table by assuming that certain numbers of electrons (for example 2, 8 and 18) corresponded to stable "closed shells", presaging orbital theory.
1923 – Pierre Auger discovers the Auger effect, where filling the inner-shell vacancy of an atom is accompanied by the emission of an electron from the same atom.
1926 – Erwin Schrödinger uses De Broglie's electron wave postulate (1924) to develop a "wave equation" that represents mathematically the distribution of a charge of an electron distributed through space, being spherically symmetric or prominent in certain directions, i.e. directed valence bonds, which gives the correct values for spectral lines of the hydrogen atom; also introduces the Hamiltonian operator in quantum mechanics.
1926 – Paul Epstein reconsiders the linear and quadratic Stark effect from the point of view of the new quantum theory, using the equations of Schrödinger and others. The derived equations for the line intensities are a decided improvement over previous results obtained by Hans Kramers.
1927 – Charles Drummond Ellis (along with James Chadwick and colleagues) finally establish clearly that the beta decay spectrum is in fact continuous and not discrete, posing a problem that will later be solved by theorizing (and later discovering) the existence of the neutrino.
1927 – Robert Mulliken works, in coordination with Hund, to develop a molecular orbital theory where electrons are assigned to states that extend over an entire molecule and, in 1932, introduces many new molecular orbital terminologies, such as σ bond, π bond, and δ bond.
1928 – Linus Pauling outlines the nature of the chemical bond: uses Heitler's quantum mechanical covalent bond model to outline the quantum mechanical basis for all types of molecular structure and bonding and suggests that different types of bonds in molecules can become equalized by rapid shifting of electrons, a process called "resonance" (1931), such that resonance hybrids contain contributions from the different possible electronic configurations.
1930 – Pauli suggests in a famous letter that, in addition to electrons and protons, atoms also contain an extremely light neutral particle which he calls the "neutron." He suggests that this "neutron" is also emitted during beta decay and has simply not yet been observed. Later it is determined that this particle is actually the almost massless neutrino.
1931 – Walther Bothe and Herbert Becker find that if the very energetic alpha particles emitted from polonium fall on certain light elements, specifically beryllium, boron, or lithium, an unusually penetrating radiation is produced. At first this radiation is thought to be gamma radiation, although it is more penetrating than any gamma rays known, and the details of experimental results are very difficult to interpret on this basis. Some scientists begin to hypothesize the possible existence of another fundamental particle.
1932 – Irène Joliot-Curie and Frédéric Joliot show that if the unknown radiation generated by alpha particles falls on paraffin or any other hydrogen-containing compound, it ejects protons of very high energy. This is not in itself inconsistent with the proposed gamma ray nature of the new radiation, but detailed quantitative analysis of the data become increasingly difficult to reconcile with such a hypothesis.
1932 – James Chadwick performs a series of experiments showing that the gamma ray hypothesis for the unknown radiation produced by alpha particles is untenable, and that the new particles must be the neutrons hypothesized by Fermi.
1932 – Mark Oliphant: Building upon the nuclear transmutation experiments of Ernest Rutherford done a few years earlier, observes fusion of light nuclei (hydrogen isotopes). The steps of the main cycle of nuclear fusion in stars are subsequently worked out by Hans Bethe over the next decade.
1934 – Fermi studies the effects of bombarding uranium isotopes with neutrons.
1934 – N. N. Semyonov develops the total quantitative chain chemical reaction theory, later the basis of various high technologies using the incineration of gas mixtures. The idea is also used for the description of the nuclear reaction.
1935 – Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen describe the EPR paradox which challenges the completeness of quantum mechanics as it was theorized up to that time. Assuming that local realism is valid, they demonstrated that there would need to be hidden parameters to explain how measuring the quantum state of one particle could influence the quantum state of another particle without apparent contact between them.
1935 - Schrödinger develops the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment. It illustrates what he saw as the problems of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics if subatomic particles can be in two contradictory quantum states at once.
1935 – Hideki Yukawa predicts the existence of the pion, stating that such a potential arises from the exchange of a massive scalar field, as it would be found in the field of the pion. Prior to Yukawa's paper, it was believed that the scalar fields of the fundamental forces necessitated massless particles.
1937 – Hermann Arthur Jahn and Edward Teller prove, using group theory, that non-linear degenerate molecules are unstable. The Jahn-Teller theorem essentially states that any non-linear molecule with a degenerate electronic ground state will undergo a geometrical distortion that removes that degeneracy, because the distortion lowers the overall energy of the complex. The latter process is called the Jahn-Teller effect; this effect was recently considered also in relation to the superconductivity mechanism in YBCO and other high temperature superconductors. The details of the Jahn-Teller effect are presented with several examples and EPR data in the basic textbook by Abragam and Bleaney (1970).
1938 – Otto Hahn and his assistant Fritz Strassmann send a manuscript to Naturwissenschaften reporting they have detected the element barium after bombarding uranium with neutrons. Hahn calls this new phenomenon a 'bursting' of the uranium nucleus. Simultaneously, Hahn communicates these results to Lise Meitner. Meitner, and her nephew Otto Robert Frisch, correctly interpret these results as being a nuclear fission. Frisch confirms this experimentally on 13 January 1939.
1939 – Leó Szilárd and Fermi discover neutron multiplication in uranium, proving that a chain reaction is indeed possible.
A Feynman diagram showing the radiation of a gluon when an electron and positron are annihilated.
1942 – A team led by Enrico Fermi creates the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, called Chicago Pile-1, in a racquets court below the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago on December 2, 1942.
1947 – George Rochester and Clifford Charles Butler publishes two cloud chamber photographs of cosmic ray-induced events, one showing what appears to be a neutral particle decaying into two charged pions, and one that appears to be a charged particle decaying into a charged pion and something neutral. The estimated mass of the new particles is very rough, about half a proton's mass. More examples of these "V-particles" were slow in coming, and they are soon given the name kaons.
1951 – Edward Teller, physicist and "father of the hydrogen bomb", and Stanislaw Ulam, mathematician, are reported to have written jointly in March 1951 a classified report on "Hydrodynamic Lenses and Radiation Mirrors" that results in the next step in the Manhattan Project.
1952 – Donald A. Glaser creates the bubble chamber, which allows detection of electrically charged particles by surrounding them by a bubble. Properties of the particles such as momentum can be determined by studying of their helical paths. Glaser receives a Nobel prize in 1960 for his invention.
1958–1959 – magic angle spinning described by Edward Raymond Andrew, A. Bradbury, and R. G. Eades, and independently in 1959 by I. J. Lowe.
The baryon decuplet of the Eightfold Way proposed by Murray Gell-Mann in 1962. The Ω− particle at the bottom had not yet been observed at the time, but a particle closely matching these predictions was discovered by a particle accelerator group at Brookhaven, proving Gell-Mann's theory.
1962 to 1973 – Brian David Josephson, predicts correctly the quantum tunneling effect involving superconducting currents while he is a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Brian Pippard at the Royal Society Mond Laboratory in Cambridge, UK; subsequently, in 1964, he applies his theory to coupled superconductors. The effect is later demonstrated experimentally at Bell Labs in the USA. For his important quantum discovery he is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1973.
1963 – Eugene P. Wigner lays the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics as well as for basic research into the structure of the atomic nucleus; makes important "contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles"; he shares half of his Nobel prize in Physics with Maria Goeppert-Mayer and J. Hans D. Jensen.
1969 to 1977 – Sir Nevill Mott and Philip Warren Anderson publish quantum theories for electrons in non-crystalline solids, such as glasses and amorphous semiconductors; receive in 1977 a Nobel prize in Physics for their investigations into the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems, which allow for the development of electronic switching and memory devices in computers. The prize is shared with John Hasbrouck Van Vleck for his contributions to the understanding of the behavior of electrons in magnetic solids; he established the fundamentals of the quantum mechanical theory of magnetism and the crystal field theory (chemical bonding in metal complexes) and is regarded as the Father of modern Magnetism.
1969 and 1970 – Theodor V. Ionescu, Radu Pârvan and I.C. Baianu observe and report quantum amplified stimulation of electromagnetic radiation in hot deuterium plasmas in a longitudinal magnetic field; publish a quantum theory of the amplified coherent emission of radiowaves and microwaves by focused electron beams coupled to ions in hot plasmas.
1972 – Francis Perrin discovers "natural nuclear fission reactors" in uranium deposits in Oklo, Gabon, where analysis of isotope ratios demonstrate that self-sustaining, nuclear chain reactions have occurred. The conditions under which a natural nuclear reactor could exist were predicted in 1956 by P. Kuroda.
1978 – Pyotr Kapitsa observes new phenomena in hot deuterium plasmas excited by very high power microwaves in attempts to obtain controlled thermonuclear fusion reactions in such plasmas placed in longitudinal magnetic fields, using a novel and low-cost design of thermonuclear reactor, similar in concept to that reported by Theodor V. Ionescuet al. in 1969. Receives a Nobel prize for early low temperature physics experiments on helium superfluidity carried out in 1937 at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, UK, and discusses his 1977 thermonuclear reactor results in his Nobel lecture on December 8, 1978.
1980 to 1982 – Alain Aspect verifies experimentally the quantum entanglement hypothesis; his Bell test experiments provide strong evidence that a quantum event at one location can affect an event at another location without any obvious mechanism for communication between the two locations. This remarkable result confirmed the experimental verification of quantum entanglement by J.F.Clauser. and. S.J.Freedman in 1972.
1982 to 1997 – Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) at PPPL, Princeton, USA: Operated since 1982, produces 10.7MW of controlled fusion power for only 0.21s in 1994 by using T-D nuclear fusion in a tokamak reactor with "a toroidal 6T magnetic field for plasma confinement, a 3MA plasma current and an electron density of 1.0×1020 m−3 of 13.5 keV"
1983 to 2011 – The largest and most powerful experimental nuclear fusion tokamak reactor in the world, Joint European Torus (JET) begins operation at Culham Facility in UK; operates with T-D plasma pulses and has a reported gain factor Q of 0.7 in 2009, with an input of 40MW for plasma heating, and a 2800-ton iron magnet for confinement; in 1997 in a tritium-deuterium experiment JET produces 16 MW of fusion power, a total of 22 MJ of fusion, energy and a steady fusion power of 4 MW which is maintained for 4 seconds.
1985 to 2010 – The JT-60 (Japan Torus) begins operation in 1985 with an experimental D-D nuclear fusion tokamak similar to the JET; in 2010 JT-60 holds the record for the highest value of the fusion triple product achieved: 1.77×1028K·s·m−3 = 1.53×1021keV·s·m−3.; JT-60 claims it would have an equivalent energy gain factor, Q of 1.25 if it were operated with a T-D plasma instead of the D-D plasma, and on May 9, 2006 attains a fusion hold time of 28.6 s in full operation; moreover, a high-power microwave gyrotron construction is completed that is capable of 1.5MW output for 1s, thus meeting the conditions for the planned ITER, large-scale nuclear fusion reactor. JT-60 is disassembled in 2010 to be upgraded to a more powerful nuclear fusion reactor—the JT-60SA—by using niobium-titanium superconducting coils for the magnet confining the ultra-hot D-D plasma.
1988 to 1998 – Mihai Gavrilă discovers in 1988 the new quantum phenomenon of atomic dichotomy in hydrogen and subsequently publishes a book on the atomic structure and decay in high-frequency fields of hydrogen atoms placed in ultra-intense laser fields.
1991 – Richard R. Ernst develops two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (2D-FT NMRS) for small molecules in solution and is awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1991 "for his contributions to the development of the methodology of high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy."
1995 – Eric Cornell, Carl Wieman and Wolfgang Ketterle and co-workers at JILA create the first "pure" Bose–Einstein condensate. They do this by cooling a dilute vapor consisting of approximately two thousand rubidium-87 atoms to below 170 nK using a combination of laser cooling and magnetic evaporative cooling. About four months later, an independent effort led by Wolfgang Ketterle at MIT creates a condensate made of sodium-23. Ketterle's condensate has about a hundred times more atoms, allowing him to obtain several important results such as the observation of quantum mechanical interference between two different condensates.
1999 to 2013 – NSTX—The National Spherical Torus Experiment at PPPL, Princeton, USA launches a nuclear fusion project on February 12, 1999 for "an innovative magnetic fusion device that was constructed by the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in collaboration with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Columbia University, and the University of Washington at Seattle"; NSTX is being used to study the physics principles of spherically shaped plasmas.
2002 – Leonid Vainerman organizes a meeting at Strasbourg of theoretical physicists and mathematicians focused on quantum group and quantum groupoid applications in quantum theories; the proceedings of the meeting are published in 2003 in a book edited by the meeting organizer.
2009 - Aaron D. O'Connell invents the first quantum machine, applying quantum mechanics to a macroscopic object just large enough to be seen by the naked eye, which is able to vibrate a small amount and large amount simultaneously.
2011 - Zachary Dutton demonstrates how photons can co-exist in superconductors. "Direct Observation of Coherent Population Trapping in a Superconducting Artificial Atom",
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Learning materials related to the history of Quantum Mechanics at Wikiversity