Download Cohesion: A Scientific History of Intermolecular Forces by J. S. Rowlinson PDF

By J. S. Rowlinson

Why does topic stick jointly? Why do gases condense to beverages, and beverages to solids? This booklet is a close ancient account of the way a few of the top scientists of the earlier 3 centuries have attempted to reply to those questions. geared up into 4 large sessions of advances in knowing, the 1st 3 are linked to Newton, Laplace and van der Waals, whereas the fourth offers an account of the winning use within the 20th century of quantum and statistical mechanics to unravel many of the final difficulties.

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The attraction and repulsion exert their forces differently: The attraction only acts upon the particles, which are in contact, or very near it; in which it overcomes the repulsion so far, as to render the fluid unelastick, which otherwise would be so; but it does not wholly destroy the repulsion of the parts of the fluid, because it is on account of that repulsion that the fluid is then incompressible. 2 Newton’s heirs 23 His facts are not quite correct; his estimate of the increase in volume of water on boiling is too large by a factor of about 8, but the same erroneous figure was still being quoted twenty years later in the widely used textbook of the Abb e´ Nollet [95].

Fontenelle describes how Dortous de Mairan explained the depression of mercury by the fact that it does not wet the glass but then interpreted this as a consequence of the struggle between the opposing vortices of a subtle magnetic material in the annular space between the mercury and the glass. Even to Fontenelle, a convinced Cartesian, this explanation did not carry conviction [132]. It had what we now think of as a characteristic weakness of many early 18th century theories. They were thought to have done their job if they provided a plausible account of a possible mechanism that did not contradict any known fact, and which satisfied the metaphysical creed of the proposer.

What he says upon this head was not intended by him as a philosophical explanation of any appearances, but only to point out a power in nature not hitherto distinctly observed, the cause of which, and the manner of its acting, he thought was worthy of a diligent enquiry. To acquiesce in the explanation of any appearance by asserting it to be a general power of attraction, is not to improve our knowledge in philosophy, but rather to put a stop to our farther search. FINIS [107] This careful ‘quasi-positivistic’ [108] attitude to gravity and cohesion was often impatiently brushed aside by Newton’s followers; to them the attractive forces were facts of nature and they did not care how they were effected.

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