Tuesday, 14 February
Atoms Entropy Quanta:
Einstein's Statistical Physics of 1905
John Norton, U of Pittsburgh,
HPS and Center for Philosophy of Science
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Early in 1905, Einstein came to an astonishing conclusion.
Despite the very great success of Maxwell's
electrodynamics and the wave theory of light of the nineteenth century,
electromagnetic radiation sometimes behaves as if its energy is
localized in quanta, somewhat like little corpuscles. Einstein's core argument for this startling
conclusion came from his mastery of statistical physics and his
sustained efforts to estimate the size of atoms.
In this talk I will review Einstein's work in statistical
physics of 1905, showing how he applied the same insights in his
work on Brownian motion and dilute sugar solutions. There
he routinely exploited the idea that the macroscopic, thermal properties
of systems like ideal gases and dilute solutions carry a distinctive
signature of atomic discreteness. He
now found a similar signature in heat radiation.
The talk will be semi-popular.
the last donut?