What Are Idealized Models? Video
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Video:What Are Idealized Models?

with James Lincoln

Idealized models are what helps us visualize and understand difficult concepts in physics. This About.com video will explain idealized models in greater detail.See Transcript

Transcript:What Are Idealized Models?

My name is James Lincoln. I'm a physics teacher here for About.com.

Examples of Idealized Models

Idealized models are images or pictures in peoples heads that scientists use to make correct predictions about scientific phenomena. For example, the solid sphere model of the atom does a good job of predicting the shape of crystals, whereas the Rutherford model of the atom does a good job of depicting electrical phenomena.  

And for emissions of the spectrum of light, Bohr's Shell Model of the atom is most effective.  

Idealized Models of Light in Physics

Another good example of an idealized model is the wave model of light. Before, Isaac Newton used to think that the Particle Model was appropriate. He would imagine that particles of light were landing in his eye and he could actually test it. It was a working, testable model because he touched the back of his eye and was able to feel the pressure and thought that was the pressure of light.  

These days, we mostly use the wave model of light. For example, if a wave has a length of 600 nanometers, then it's red light; if light has a length of 400 nanometers, then it's blue light. In Quantum Mechanics, we have to use the particle model of light again once in a while for example explaining the photoelectric effect, using Einstein's explanation.

So you see, idealized models are simplifications of complex phenomena into simpler situations using everyday objects that we're very familiar with. We use models along with theory to guide our predictions and make us better scientists.  

I'm James Lincoln for About.com. Thanks for watching.

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