Thursday, March 11, 2010

Avogadro and His Constant

Read an intersting account of the development of Avogadro's constant in a 16 page article.

The interseting point in the article is the paragraph.

Our current interpretation of gas structure has its origins in a chapter in the book
‘Hydrodynamik’ by Bernoulli, published in 1738, but this work was overlooked for
more than a hundred years. Also, in 1845 J.J.Waterston, a school teacher in Bombay,
submitted a paper to the Royal Society with the title ‘On the physics of media
composed of free and perfectly elastic molecules in a state of motion’, in which many
of the currently accepted concepts of kinetic theory were set out. Unfortunately this
paper was rejected by the society as “nothing but nonsense, unfit even for reading
before the society”. However, the manuscript was rediscovered in the archives by
Lord Rayleigh who deduced that it was essentially correct, and the paper was
published in the Philosophical Transactions in 1892 (15). Rayleigh wrote a preamble
to the paper describing its treatment, in which he says that the referee of Waterston’s
paper was one of the best qualified authorities of the day, and that the failure to
publish the paper probably held back the subject by 10 to 15 years. In the meantime
there had been major developments of the theory, particularly by Clausius, Maxwell,
and Boltzmann.

I came to know of Mr. Waterston from a talk delivered by Dr. M. Bama, director of TIFR on 10.3.2010 on the occasion of Foundation day of IIT Bombay.

1 comment:

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