The Mystery of the Unceasing Motion: Brown, Einstein, Perrin
The Scottish botanist Robert Brown (Fig. 3.1) was a naturalist of the type that appeared frequently in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: a scientific traveller venturing to little-explored regions, just like, 30 years later, the Englishman Charles Darwin or the Prussian Alexander von Humboldt. At the age of 27, Brown sailed on board the research ship ‘Investigator’ on behalf of the renowned British botanist Sir Joseph Banks to New Holland, the present Australia, where until 1805, he collected 4,500 plant species, 1,700 of them hitherto unknown. Brown remained widely known beyond his field, not because of that collection but rather through an observation he made 20 years later.
- R. Brown, A brief account of microscopical observations made in the months of June, July and August, 1827, on the particles contained in the pollens of plants; and the general existence of active molecules in organic and inorganic bodies. Phil. Mag. 4, 161–173 (1828). New SeriesCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- J. Perrin, Discontinuous Structure of Matter, Nobel Lectures, Physics 1922–1941 (Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1965)Google Scholar
- M.V. Smoluchowski, Zur kinetischen Theorie der Brownschen Molekularbewegung und der Suspensionen. Ann. Physik 21, 756–780 (1906)Google Scholar
- J. Stachel (ed.), The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, vol. 2 (Princeton University Press, 1989)Google Scholar