The development of kinetic theory in the latter part of the 19th century represented the culmination of a mechanistic approach to natural philosophy that had begun with Isaac Newton two centuries earlier. In 1905, however, Albert Einstein single-handedly overthrew the underlying basis of Newtonian mechanics with the introduction of his special theory of relativity. This led to a theory he was never comfortable with: quantum mechanics. The birth of quantum mechanics partly arose from the developments of kinetic theory and statistical mechanics. This chapter looks at the contributions of James Clerk Maxwell and Max Planck to quantum mechanics, quantum probability, waves and particles, and the use of quantum theory by modern physicists to describe matter on all scales.
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