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Limitations of Classical Physics

There is a wealth of observable effects in the quantum world which
cannot be understood in the framework of classical mechanics or classical
electrodynamics. Instead of listing them all one by one I choose
two characteristic examples that show very clearly that the description
within classical physics is incomplete and must be supplemented by
some new, fundamental principles. These are: the quantization of atomic
bound states which does not follow from the Kepler problem for an
electron in the field of a positive point charge, and the electromagnetic
radiation emitted by an electron bound in an atom which, in a purely
classical framework, would render atomic quantum states unstable.
When we talk about “classical” here and in the sequel, we mean every
domain of physics where Planck’s constant does not play a quantitative
role and, therefore, can be neglected to a very good approximation.


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