Thomas Silvio De Santis, Matthew Joseph Sandor, Nathan Charles Sowder


Presentation: 3:00-4:15, Kennedy Union Ballroom



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A black body is an ideal object that when heated emits thermal radiation but absorbs all radiation shined on it. In the early 1900’s physicists were interested in describing radiation emission of such objects, but to no avail. Classical physics was simply unequipped to describe black bodies. One theory, Rayleigh-Jeans equations, is one such failed attempt. One of the problems of using classical physics known at the time to describe blackbodies was the so called "ultraviolet catastrophe." The ultraviolet catastrophe comes about because classical physics assumes that energy is continuous and as such the calculated total energy emitted by a blackbody becomes infinite, which is physically unrealistic. Max Plank, a theoretical physicist, hypothesized that energy absorbed or emitted by molecules is quantized, thereby leading to what is known Planck's equation that solved the ultraviolet catastrophe and gave birth to a new field of physics called quantum mechanics. The theoretical treatment of black bodies has resulted in many applications. It is now used in medical and thermal imaging, understanding the temperature and composition of stars, just to mention a few.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project - PHY 321 01

Primary Advisor

Mo Ahoujja

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals


Quantization of Thermal Radiation in Blackbody Radiation