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Second Question: Einstein

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Bob G
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In 1905 Albert Einstein published three papers. For one he received a Nobel prize in physics. Another was the introduction of Special Relativity. The third is often ignored or at least treated as minor. This view actually ignores the historical progression of ideas, for the paper often ignored did have a significant impact.

My multi-part question regarding Einstein regards this ignored paper. What was the subject of this paper? Who did it influence? And, why was it important?

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What was the subject of this paper? Who did it influence? And, why was it important?

Brownian motion?

Although it's a paper on thermodynamics, it might have influenced Planck because it dealt with the idea of quanta.

I'm trying to think whether (and how) it led to Planck's theory of black body radiation. That might be it's biggest influence.

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Brownian motion?

Although it's a paper on thermodynamics, it might have influenced Planck because it dealt with the idea of quanta.

I'm trying to think whether (and how) it led to Planck's theory of black body radiation. That might be it's biggest influence.

Other way around.

Planck published his formula for accounting for black-body radiation in 1900, five years before 25 year old Albert Einstein published his paper on Brownian motion. Planck was very much influenced by the work of Bolzmann.

Bob Kolker

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I don't think this is true. Check out http://www.humboldt1.com/~gralsto/einstein/1905.html

Brownian motion?

Although it's a paper on thermodynamics, it might have influenced Planck because it dealt with the idea of quanta.

I didn't say it was completely ignored, just often ignored. GreedyCapitalist, the link you noted underscores my general point in that it only mentions the paper, it does not give a reason why the paper was important.

Rockefeller's answer is interesting in that he is looking forward into the 20C and its problems in physics. The focus of this paper on Brownian motion was looking backward.

In 1095, physics had not gained the dominant position that it had thereafter. Chemistry was also very important in ongoing debates about the nature of the world. But many leading chemists had not accepted the reality of atoms. To their way of thinking, the existence of atoms had not been proved. Einstein's analysis of Brownian motion was such a proof, and chemists could no longer ignore atoms. It probably helped move that science to a dependent position. This paper, which many today probably consider minor, would alone make Einstein important in the history of science. The man was a great thinker.

I'll give you my last little odd history question next week. It is not about the history of science.

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