|Robert Brown, Ludwig Boltzmann, Albert Einstein, Jean Baptiste Perrin physics|
- Scottish botanist Robert Brown,
- examining starch and lipid organelles
- ejected from grains of pollen in water,
- observed a continuous jittery motion.
- The issue was whether energy or atoms
- were pushing the particles around.
- In spite of the work of John Dalton, many physicists
- didn’t believe in atoms and molecules.
- German physicist Ludwig Boltzmann,
- who developed the kinetic theory of gases,
- claimed that what we know as heat was simply
- atoms and molecules moving rapidly.
- Albert Einstein modeled the collective motions
- of particles, focusing first on their diffusion over time,
- then on the measurable quantities, which let him
- predict the sizes and number of atoms in a gas.
- French physicist Jean Baptiste Perrin experimented
- with colloidal suspensions to verify Einstein’s predictions,
- thus settling the century-long dispute
- about Dalton’s atomic theory.
- Shake atoms up and they get hot.
- Excited, they expand; contract, they emit photons.
- They can hold only so much, take only so much pressure,
- and do only so much work until they come to rest.
- Even the vacuum of empty space
- is believed to have energy, vacuum fluxuations,
- vibrating fields, or virtual particle pairs,
- and thus have mass, which is quantized, but never rests.
- My fingers on your arm,
- a solid feeling a solid, or softness,
- do not betray the fact that they, or your arm,
- that is, their atoms, are widely spaced
- like distant planets around a sun.