Modern Physics Lab

Modern Physics Lab


Modern Lab

The Arthur Compton Modern Physics Laboratory

The Modern Physics Lab was given by Stephen M. Stackpole, Class of 1951, and is named for Arthur Compton, a 1913 graduate of The College of Wooster. In 1922, Compton found that X-ray wavelengths increase due to scattering of the radiant energy by "free electrons". The scattered quanta have less energy than the quanta of the original ray. This discovery, known as the "Compton effect," or "Compton scattering" demonstrates the "particle" concept of electromagnetic radiation and earned Compton the Nobel Prize in physics in 1927.

Wooster's Modern Lab is used for experiments done in Physics 201: Modern Physics. Most of these “Modern Physics” experiments were first performed in or around the critical timeframe often called the thirty years that shook physics, 1896-1926. For reference, this was the time of Henry Ford’s Model T and Model A automobiles, and the map of Europe was still dominated by the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires. These experiments were our first contact with the microworld. They forced upon us an unanticipated and nonintuitive worldview that physicists and philosophers still struggle with today.

In this lab students may follow in the footsteps of that turbulent generation by observing firsthand the quantization of energy and wave-particle duality, and by determining four measures of our universe, the fundamental constants c, e, m, h.