The World of Atom (Part II)

ReferenceA Logical Approach to Theoretical Physics

Part I of this series introduced many new concepts including new models for light and atom. We now look into the effects of these concepts on existing ideas in physics.  



Chapter 10: The Birth of Atomic Theory (John Dalton 1766 – 1844)

Dalton was investigating why oxygen and nitrogen remained mixed in air and did not separate, when he accidentally discovered that oxygen and nitrogen combined in definite ratios. Dalton had a physical particle picture of gases, which led him to assume that a chemical reaction is only the combination of an atom of one substance with that of another. This led to the inference that the relative weights of the constituent atoms in compounds could be determined. This established the foundation of atomic chemistry.

Atoms interact with each other as if they are distinct units of elements. In this sense we have quantum interactions of atoms. One further needs to investigate the reason for this.

Chapter 11: The Volume Combination of Gases (Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac 1778 – 1850)

Gay Lussac showed that if gases enter into chemical reactions, they do so in numerically simple volume ratios, and the volume of the products, if gaseous, may be expressed by simple integral numerical ratios to the volume of the original reactants. This is true for gases only, where the force of cohesion between atoms and molecules is minimum, and where most of the volume is due to the “atmosphere of heat” surrounding the nuclei. The volume ratio is, most likely, also the ratio of atoms and molecules that combine.

Volume of atoms appears to be proportional to their numbers irrespective of their mass. This means that the mass is determined by the nucleus, whereas the volume is determined by the energy surrounding the nucleus.

Chapter 12: Atoms and Molecules – Avogadro’s Law (Amedeo Avogadro 1776 – 1856)

Avogadro’s principle is that equal volumes of different gases at the same temperature and pressure contain the same number of molecules. By this principle, Avogadro correctly deduced the chemical formula for water, ammonia, nitrous oxide, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. However, for the principle to be valid it was necessary to introduce a new hypothesis, namely, that the ultimate particles of many of the elementary gases such as hydrogen and nitrogen were molecules i.e., combinations of two, or sometimes more, atoms.

Since pressure due to the same number of molecules is the same, the average change in momentum, regardless of the molecule, is the same. If the molecule is heavier, then its velocity must be less. This implies that natural velocity of the molecule is inversely proportional to its mass.

Chapter 13: The Search for Primordial Material (William Prout 1785 – 1850)

The notion that all matter is composed of the same primary substance and that when organized in different ways produces the various elements, occurs far back in antiquity. In Daltonian theory, atoms were distinguished by their different masses. Prout hypothesized that the atoms of all elements are simply combinations of hydrogen. 

Prout’s hypothesis based on the specific gravity of elements being integer multiple of the specific gravity of hydrogen. Thus, the mass of hydrogen atom became the fundamental unit of atomic mass. But we may say that the primordial substance is energy, and that the nucleus is formed of condensed energy.



NOTE: These postulates are consistent with previous postulates.

  1. The mass of atom is determined by a very small nucleus in the center.
  2. The volume of atom is determined by the energy surrounding the nucleus.
  3. Atoms combine in definite ratio by their number.
  4. Atoms lock into each other in a certain configuration.
  5. The whole configuration of atoms also spins and moves.


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