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Scientiae Studia

versão impressa ISSN 1678-3166


PATY, Michel. Remarks on Einstein's original approach towards a quantum theory of radiation (about the article "Einstein y el efecto Compton"). Sci. stud. [online]. 2013, vol.11, n.1, pp.221-242. ISSN 1678-3166.

In the article "Einstein y el efecto Compton", published in this issue of SCIENTIÆ UDIA: , the authors wonder why Einstein did not claim unambiguously that this phenomenon was a clear and definitive proof of the corpuscular character of radiation. The aims of the present critical note are to provide additional comments that serve to clarify the method that Einstein used for exploring the quantum domain, in the absence of a satisfactory theory - a method he practiced from 1905 to 1925, and from which he obtained evidence of new and unusual properties of quantum phenomena; and to try to formulate what he wanted to get at in his investigations, so as to understand better his thinking about quanta. Three main arguments are sketched. (1) The problem of light quanta cannot be separated from that of the quantum properties of atomic matter in general. (2) Another experiment, performed shortly after Compton's yielded a further element that was necessary to obtain a definitive answer to the question of whether a quantity of motion can be attributed to radiation. (3) Finally, Einstein's works on quantum statistics during that period pointed towards a generalization of the double wave-corpuscle behavior of radiation, and also of matter, providing evidence for the indistinguishability of identical states, thus revealing radically new fundamental properties that should be accounted for by any further quantum theory.

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