The Ultraviolet Catastrophe

What do scientists do when their observations don't match the theory? An interesting video introduces the ultraviolet catastrophe as part of a larger series covering physics concepts. Starting with ultraviolet light and ending with quantum physics sounds like a long jump, but that is the path scientists used to solve the problem. We may not understand everything now, but we are so much closer than we were before.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Stress the fact that the most important discoveries were often made because of mistakes
  • After the video, share some of the most recent discoveries in quantum physics
Classroom Considerations

  • Requires prior knowledge of ultraviolet light and famous scientists

  • Includes subtitles in eight languages for ELLs
  • Works well in a traditional or flipped classroom
  • Connects history, science, math, and more

  • None