User:Robert/Physics Exam

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This is a "midterm exam" on the rise of "modern physics" (ca. 1900), intended to accompany World History Lecture Eleven. It is presented in the spirit of good fun.


(Multiple choice, choose one) What observation led to the insight that light is emitted in discrete quanta?

A. photoelectric effect
B. Stern-Gerlach experiment
C. "ultraviolet catastrophe"
D. Geiger-Marsden experiment
E. Rutherford experiment
F. Franck-Hertz experiment
G. Bohr model of the atom
H. Davisson-Germer experiment

(Multiple choice, choose one) What observation led to the insight that light is absorbed in discrete quanta?

(as above)

(Multiple choice, choose one) What observation led to the insight that light carries energy in discrete quanta?

(as above)

(Multiple choice, choose one) What observation led to the insight that electron energies in an atom are in discrete quanta?

(as above)

(Multiple choice, choose one) What observation showed the wave nature of actual physical particles?

(as above)

(Multiple choice, choose one) Which of the experiments listed above was assigned to some newcomers to the laboratory, as a sort of "throw-away" exercise?

(as above)

(Multiple choice, choose all that apply) The Pauli exclusion principle applies to what types of particles?

A. Leptons
B. Hadrons
C. Fermions
D. Gluons
E. Bosons
F. Photons

(short answer) Ernest Rutherford made a famous statement involving tissue paper. To what was he referring?

(short answer) What happened to Erwin Planck, son of Max Planck?

(medium answer) Describe the contributions of Planck, Bohr, and Schrodinger, and give the approximate dates of each.

(Honors essay) Briefly describe the eight experiments/observations/insights listed above.


When Arthur Eddington made his famous statement, (referring to the number of people who understood general relativity at that time) "I'm wondering who is the third", what was the question/statement to which he was directly replying?

A. "Is it really true that General Relativity is so complicated that only three people understand it?"
B. "Isn't it true that you, Einstein, Poincare, and Lorentz are the only people who really understand this? And yet they say that the number is actually only three."
C. "Don't be modest, Eddington."
D. "You and Einstein obviously understand this. Anyone else?"

The actual event at which Eddington made that statement was the discussion period following a lecture/seminar. Who was the speaker at that lecture?

A. Einstein
B. Minkowski
C. Eddington himself
D. Lorentz

(short answer) Taking at face value the assertion that three people really understood general relativity at the time, who were those people?

Aside from general relativity, which of the following is NOT among the then-credible hypotheses advanced in the late 19th century / early 20th century to explain the anomalous perihelion shift of Mercury?

A. Unobserved solar oblateness
B. An unknown moon of Mercury
C. A velocity-dependent term in the equation of gravity
D. Geometric change in Mercury due to the FitzGerald contraction
E. An unknown small planet
F. A finite speed for the propagation of the gravitational force

(short answer) What is the difference between Einstein's formulation of relativistic length change ("the FitzGerald contraction") and FitzGerald's own formulation?

(short answer) What result of relativity led researchers to believe, prior to measuring it, that the fission of the Uranium nucleus would release enormous amounts of energy, even by the standards of other known nuclear processes? How was this calculation done? What was the resultant energy?

(short answer) One pre-Einstein hypothesis to explain the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment was that the Earth dragged its local aether with it. What observations refuted that?