Download Atom: Journey Across the Subatomic Cosmos by Isaac Asimov PDF

By Isaac Asimov

The mythical Isaac Asimov starts off what's might be the best of all his books with an easy question: How finely can a bit of subject be divided? yet like many easy questions, this one leads readers on a far-flung quest for a last resolution, a seek that encompasses such interesting phenomena as mild and electrical energy and their components--strange yet actual bits of subject that problem our assumptions concerning the very nature of time and house. forty illustrations.

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Extra resources for Atom: Journey Across the Subatomic Cosmos

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M' ... j{c t " " . i:tb-·.... �': �. ,.. -:; � '7' -'"... In 1801. Thorru1s Young let light faU on a surface containing two closely adjacent slits. The wedge of light from each slit feU on a screen and overlapped. resulting in a pattern of stripes-bright bands and dim bands alternating. There seemed no way of explain­ ing this phenomenon by the particle hypathesis. On the other hand, if the waves from one slit were out of phase with those from the other slit-if one set of waves went up while the other went down (or one went in while the other went outl-then the two waves would cancel each other, at least in part, and the two combined would be weaker than either separately.

That story began in 1614, when the Italian chemist Angelo Sala (1576-1637) noticed that silver nitrate, a perfectly white compound, darkened on exposure to sunlight. This happens, we now know, because light contains energy and can force apart the molecule of silver nitrate, producing finely divided silver, which ap­ pears black. About 1770, the Swedish chemist Karl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786) went into the subject in more detail, making use of the solar spectrum, which wasn't known in Sala's time.

Even Berzelius didn't make use of the hypothesis, so that his table of atomic weights was wrong in places. In 1858, however, the Italian chemist Stanislao Can­ nizzaro (1826-1910) came across Avogadro's hypothesis and saw that that was what was needed to make sense out of figuring out how many atoms of each element there were in a compound, and getting the correct figures for atomic weight. In 1860, there was a great international chemical con­ gress, which chemists from all over Europe attended (it was the first of such international congresses).

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