The Nature of Light and Matter

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Introducing the Quantum
Begin your study of the ideas that revolutionized physics at the atomic scale: quantum theory. The word quantum comes from Max Planck's proposal in 1900 that the atomic vibrations that produce light must be quantized: that is, they occur only with certain discrete energies.
A New Theory of Matter
Episode 3 of The Nature of Matter
Discover how the idea that light comes in discrete packets called "quanta" led to a startling new theory of matter: quantum mechanics. One prediction is that matter, like light, behaves as both a particle and a wave, a property observed in subatomic particles such as electrons.
The Nature of Matter - Understanding the Physical World
Discover how the immense variety of matter--stars, mountains, plants, people--is made by a limited number of elements that combine in simple ways. In the engaging lectures of The Nature of Matter, no scientific background is needed to appreciate everyday miracles like a bouncing rubber ball or water's astonishing power to…
Matter, Energy, and Entropy
Episode 1 of The Nature of Matter
Starting with a deck of cards tossed into the air, explore the key concepts of matter, energy, and entropy, which are the building blocks of the physical universe. Study examples of these phenomena, and see how they are demonstrated by the behavior of the airborne cards.
The Future of Materials
Episode 24 of The Nature of Matter
Close your study of the nature of matter by looking ahead at ambitious goals for future materials, and review examples of past science fiction that's now science fact. Achievements like the Moon landings and the Internet suggest that nanoscale technologies, a cure for cancer, and other dreams may one day…
Particle or Wave?
In 1923, Louis de Broglie proposed that, like light photons, particles of matter might also display wave properties. The wave nature of smaller particles such as electrons is quite visible and leads to many unusual phenomena, including quantum tunneling mentioned in Lecture 1.
The Science of Energy - Resources and Power Explained
Energy is, without a doubt, the very foundation of the universe. It's the engine that powers life and fuels the evolution of human civilization. Yet for all its importance, what energy really is and how it works remains a mystery to most non-scientists. For example:
  • Where does most of…
Chemical Energy, Biomass, and Photosynthesis
Episode 5 of The Science of Energy
Turn now to chemical energy, the potential energy resulting from the position of atoms within molecules. After an overview of photosynthesis (perhaps the universe's most amazing form of energy conversion), learn how combustion transforms biofuels into light and heat, and how energy density affects the transportation of biofuels like petroleum.
The Mystery of Matter - The Search for the Elements
PBS
THE MYSTERY OF MATTER: SEARCH FOR THE ELEMENTS is an exciting three-part series about one of the great adventures in the history of science: the long and continuing quest to understand what the world is made of. Three hour-long episodes tell the story of seven of history's most important scientists…
Wave or Particle?
In the 1920s physicists established that light and matter display both wave- and particle-like behavior. Probe the nature of this apparent contradiction and the meaning of Werner Heisenberg's famous uncertainty principle, which introduces a fundamental indeterminacy into physics.
Special Relativity
Discover the startling consequences of Einstein's principle of relativity: that the laws of physics are the same for all observers in uniform motion. One result is that the speed of light is the same for all observers, no matter what their relative motion: an idea that overturns the concept of…