But this theory also had a fatal flaw. A positive nucleus with a
negative electron orbiting around it, seen from the plane of the
orbit, would appear as an oscillating electric dipole, as shown
on the previous page. By all the laws of classical physics and electromagnetic
theory, an oscillating electric dipole should radiate electromagnetic
If this were not so, the whole theory behind wireless telegraphy
and radio would be wrong. If the atom did radiate energy, however,
then the electron would fall to a lower-energy orbit, closer to
the nucleus. It would radiate still more energy, and the process
should end only when the electron had whirled down and collided
with the nucleus, as shown in lower left margin.
According to classical theory, every atom in the universe should
long since have collapsed, because its electrons had spiraled into
the nucleus. Thus whether electrons were stationary or orbiting,
atoms should not exist. What was wrong with classical physics?