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

By J. S. Rowlinson

Why does topic stick jointly? Why do gases condense to beverages, and drinks to solids? This e-book is an in depth historic account of the way the various best scientists of the earlier 3 centuries have attempted to respond to those questions. prepared into 4 huge classes of advances in figuring out, the 1st 3 are linked to Newton, Laplace and van der Waals, whereas the fourth supplies an account of the winning use within the 20th century of quantum and statistical mechanics to unravel lots of the final difficulties.

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Additional info for Cohesion: A Scientific History of Intermolecular Forces

Sample text

It was Clairaut who, in a paper read to the Academy on 15 November 1747, tried boldly to remove the discrepancy by adding a correction term to the inverse-square law of attraction. He supposed that the force of gravitation might vary with separation r as (ar −2 + br −4 ), where a was proportional to the product of the masses of the bodies, but b was a new coefficient, still to be determined [207]. He supposed that the second term might be related to the cohesive and capillary forces, but added in a footnote that if it were to have an effect at the distance of the Moon it might prove to be too strong for the purpose and to lead to too great a gravitational force at surface of the Earth.

He believed that the strength of the adherence of water was proportional to the density of the solid wall – a false analogy with gravitation, but one that showed, perhaps, that Newton’s ideas were beginning to be treated with respect [134]. These French philosophers made few attempts to account for their findings, writing only in the most general terms of a ‘stickiness’ (Mariotte, who used the word viscosit´e ), or a ‘sympathy’ (Carr´e), or an ‘adhesion’ (Fontenelle), or an ‘adherence’ (Petit) between the water and the glass, avoiding all mention of the Newtonian ‘attraction’.

Mariotte’s and ’s Gravesande’s explanation did not prevent the naive interpretation being put forward again later in the century. ’S Gravesande’s younger colleague, van Musschenbroek, who was first at Utrecht and later at Leiden, was initially more sceptical about attractive forces but was eventually convinced: That attraction obtains in all bodies whatever I am sufficiently assured by a multiplicity of experiments. I do not advance this as an hypothesis, nor maintain it out of prejudice, or in complaisance to any party: for formerly I exploded it as a fiction, as many learned men have 34 2 Newton done.

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