The Compton effect as one path to QED


Abstract
Quantum electrodynamics is the theory of electrons and other elementary charged particles, interacting through the exchange of light quanta. Albert Einstein introduced the light quantum in 1905, but for about three decades physicists applied quantum ideas mainly in theories of the structure and behavior of matter, not to electromagnetic radiation itself, which was always treated semi-classically. This began to change after 1923 with the discovery of the Compton effect and its kinematic description by Arthur Compton and Peter Debye, based on the light quantum. In this paper we review the study of high-energy radiation that led to Compton's discovery. We discuss the analysis of the intensity distribution of Compton-scattered radiation that together with the ''new'' quantum theory beginning in 1925, resulted in the development, especially by Pascual Jordan and Paul Dirac, of a quantum theory of electromagnetic radiation in interaction with matter
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