What was Modern about Modern physics?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAModernism is defined as “any of various movements in art, architecture, literature, etc., generally characterized by a deliberate break with classical and traditional forms or methods of expression; the work or ideas of the adherents of such a movement.” Similarly, modernity is defined as “an intellectual tendency or social perspective characterized by departure from or repudiation of traditional ideas, doctrines, and cultural values in favour of contemporary or radical values and beliefs (chiefly those of scientific rationalism and liberalism)”. Likewise, modern means “of, relating to, or designating a current or recent movement or trend in art, architecture, etc., characterized by a departure from or a repudiation of accepted or traditional styles and values.”

Modernism translates very well into the scientific realm, for example modern physics. An aspect of modern physics which qualifies it to be a part of modernity is that the theories that modern physics introduced were radical and controversial concepts, which resonated with the modernism evident in the twentieth century society, such as culture, art and literature. The key concepts of modern physics, such as quantum mechanics and relativity, break from the traditional understanding of the natural world, which coincides with the break from traditional culture that occurred in the twentieth century society. As Bohr writes in one of his papers, “… this new feature of natural philosophy means a radical revision of our attitude as regards physical reality, which maybe paralleled with the fundamental modification of all ideas regarding the absolute character of physical phenomena brought about by the general theory of relativity…” .

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