March 1905: Einstein\'s Revolutionary Quantum Paper

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Einstein’s March paper, the only paper that Einstein himself called revolutionary, directly challenged the firm beliefs of all physicists. With compelling evidence in their support, physicists regarded the nature of light as a closed chapter: light was a continuous electromagnetic wave. Einstein countered this entrenched belief with the claim that light was a stream of discontinuous, isolated particles. The age-old conundrum of continuity vs. discontinuity was again called into play. Einstein’s contemporaries totally rejected his idea and they even apologized for his having “gone overboard.” In the end, however, Einstein’s light particle became part of the woodwork of physics. John S Rigden, Einstein, light, electromagnetic, continuity, discontinuity, atoms, wave lengths, photoelectric effect