• The problem was that according to the known laws of classical physics, the amount of radiation emitted by a (black)body at a particular frequency should be proportional to the square of the frequency. But frequencies go up as high as you like, so the amount of energy being radiated by a body should be infinite. This is the "ultraviolet catastrophe" (ultraviolet here meaning simply frequencies higher than that of violet). Physics was in a quandary. It needed a genius to solve the problem. Fortunately a genius was available in the person of a little known patent clerk. Einstein. Einstein got the Nobel prize, not for his later theories of Relativity, but for showing that to account for the observed effects light must be emitted in packets, or quanta - hence the birth of quantum theory, which solved the catastophe at a stroke.

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