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The Proof of Wien‘s Law

Nature volume 162, pages 143144 (24 July 1948) | Download Citation



A VITAL step in the proof of Wien‘s Law, ET) = T5ψ(λT), for complete radiation, is the adiabatic change in volume of a cavity filled with radiation. In Wien‘s first proof (1893)1 and in the more analytical version of it given by O. W. Richardson2, the cavity is cylindrical in shape and is provided with a movable piston. In order that the distribution in direction may remain random during the expansion, Wien stipulated that the cavity walls should be "perfectly white" (that is, diffuse rather than specular reflectors).

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  1. 1.

    Sitz. Kön. preuss. Akad. Wiss., 55 (1893).

  2. 2.

    "The Electron Theory of Matter", 339–342 (Camb. Univ. Press, 1916).

  3. 3.

    , , 657 (1900); "Collected Papers", 2, 217.

  4. 4.

    Verh. deut. phys. Ges., 16, 93 (1914).

  5. 5.

    Wied.Ann., 52, 132 (1894).

  6. 6.

    "Wärmestrahlung", 68 (1906). The argument of pp. 69–70 fails for a perfectly reflecting cylindrical cavity.

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  1. Department of Physics, University of Melbourne.

    • E. O. HERCUS


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