Physics 335, Lecture 1 / slide 01-05

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The spectra of hot gasses consist of lines of color, which means that atoms seem to be more-or-less equivalent to a clock tower.  A clock tower can only give off certain frequencies of sound, corresponding to the bells within, and atoms can only give off only certain frequencies of light, corresponding to --- ??  Well, the physicists of 1890 weren't quite sure.  They supposed that the atoms were vibrating somehow, to create the light.