The World of Atom (Part III)

ReferenceA Logical Approach to Theoretical Physics



Chapter 14: Atoms in Motion – John Herapath (1790 – 1868)

Gas heats up on sudden compression and cools down on sudden expansion because of change in velocity of the particles.

Chapter 15: “Active Molecules” – Brownian Motion – Robert Brown (1773 – 1858)

Particles have a primitive form of life as they have intrinsic motion. 

Chapter 16: The Tragedy of a Genius – John James Waterston (1811 – 1883)

Under equal pressure and volume, the root mean square velocity is inversely proportional to mass density.

Chapter 17: The Conservation of Energy, The Mechanical Equivalent of Heat – James Preston Joule (1818 – 1889)

Energy changes form chemical to electrical to heat to mechanical, but energy is always conserved.

Chapter 18: The Range of Molecular Speeds in a Gas – James Clerk Maxwell (1831 – 1879)

A molecule has a range of speeds. Thus, its mass density may also have a range.

Viscosity of a gas does not depend on its pressure. Thus, viscosity depends on the volume of the energy field around the point mass.

POSTULATE: Change in velocity of a particle means infinitesimal change in its mass density. The point particle does not determine the viscosity, only the volume of energy does.


Newton in his Opticks had suggested that gravitation might arise from the variation in density of an elastic medium filling all space. John Herapath (1790 – 1868) theorized that density differential in ethereal medium on the two sides of a body created a force on the body. So, he considered the relationship between temperature, pressure and density of the supposed ethereal medium. He adopted a kinetic view and provided a proof relating the pressure and volume to the velocities and masses of the rapidly moving medium.

This is like applying the kinetic theory to a continuum of varying density. We may thus see the spectrum of light as this continuum where different frequencies provide different densities and the density gradient appears as force. This is consistent with the whirlpool model of the atom where the density of the primary substance gradually increases toward the center, until it becomes completely solid. However, this was not acceptable to the scientists of 19th century because it required perfectly elastic collisions and deformation (infinite divisibility) of the medium.

Robert Brown (1773 – 1858) observed, “The very unexpected fact of seeming vitality retained by these minute particles so long after the death of the plant would not perhaps have materially lessened my confidence in the supposed peculiarity … I found also that on bruising first the floral leaves of Mosses, and then all other parts of those plants, that I readily obtained similar particles, not in equal quantity indeed, but equally in motion.” Brownian motion is an effect arising from the imbalance of molecular impacts on a free microscopic particle. In this sense, molecules have a primitive form of life as they have self-propelled motion. An inherent motion of molecules underlies the Kinetic theory of gases.

John James Waterston (1811 – 1883) showed among other things that under equal pressure and volume, the root mean square velocity of gas molecules is inversely proportional to their mass density. This relationship may be extended to the continuum represented by light. The square of the velocity of light is inversely proportional to its density as represented by some function of its frequency.

James Preston Joule (1818 – 1889) firmly established the idea that mechanical energy could be transformed into internal energy and thus produce the same effect as “heating” a body and that a fixed ratio existed between mechanical work and thermal units. Heat is properly defined as energy in transit due solely to a temperature difference.  Joule saw that chemical energy in battery is converted to electrical energy in the circuit and that this in turn is converted into heat. This ultimately established the Law of Conservation of Energy.

Underlying all properties of substance is the conservation of energy and mass. Energy is basically motion, and it seems to condense as mass. The motion can never be zero in an absolute sense. Therefore, mass and energy seem to transform into each other by degrees. Both energy and mass may be classified as the primary substance.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831 – 1879) brilliantly deduced the distribution of molecular speeds in a gas at equilibrium at any temperature. This great step forward in the understanding of the behavior of the elementary particles of gases represents one of the major advances in the progress of the atomic theory of matter. Besides, Maxwell provided a formula for the coefficient of viscosity of a gas which showed this quantity to be independent of pressure, a most unexpected and surprising result.

These mathematical results are just as valid for the whirlpool model as for the spherical model of the atom.


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