The poet Louise McNeill wrote quite imaginatively about electrons cascading down their atomic orbits: “Hush”the electrons sing/ Dropping/ Down/ Through their orbits/ From ring/ To glowing ring/ Lower/ And lower/ Hush.”* But she forgot the quantum leap. (Her word “dropping” conveys the notion of continuous movement.) The first triumph of the new quantum theory of the atom came from the analysis of the light emitted by an atom as one of its electrons jumped from a level of higher energy to one of lower energy, which showed clearly the discontinuous discreteness of atomic transitions.
KeywordsMercury Chromium Helium Coherence Xenon
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- *“The Tuning Fork,” by Louise McNeill, in The Christian Science Monitor, July 25,1977.Google Scholar