History of Science as a Facilitator for the Study of Physics: A Repertoire from the History of Contemporary Physics

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Angeloni, Roberto
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This proposal shares the general objective of enhancing scientific and technological literacy for all, by promoting STEM education with particular reference to contemporary physics. I will contribute to the present purpose by offering a glimpse of the historical development of contemporary physics. In particular, I will place emphasis on the conceptual structure and development of quantum theory, by showing that there is a rational line of thought underlying this and any other theory, whose understanding is the key to introduce young generations of students to science. In the present case, I am referring to the possibility of presenting the historical development of quantum theory as a “physiological” extension of the concept of natural radiation (symbolised by Planck’s constant), which led to a new interpretation of phenomena at micro scale: the quantization of energy and momenta, as Max Planck formally laid it down in 1900, and Albert Einstein successively developed in 1905, which others extended to wider domains (viz. to the quantization of rotational energy and to the structure of atoms). However, my concern here is also to offer a multifarious approach to the study of physics, which I seek to carry on by laying emphasis on the “private” history of scientists that lies behind their discoveries