A few filings from a piece of metal are all that a spectrometer needs in order to provide a detailed analysis of the metal. Each element has a very distinctive fingerprint in the set of wavelengths or colors that it gives off when it is heated.

What causes these distinctive spectra? They cannot be explained by the ideas we have discussed so far. New ideas--and new ways of thinking--are necessary now. These ideas reach to the very core of how atoms behave.

Key Ideas
Return to Ch 28, Quantum Mechanics

(c) Doug Davis, 2002; all rights reserved