Capture Collision Theory
Even as a musician can recognize his Mozart, Beethoven, or Schubert after hearing the first few bars, so can a mathematician recognize his Cauchy, Gauss, Jacobi, Helmholtz, or Kirchhoff after the first few pages. The French writers reveal themselves by the extreme formal elegance, while the English, especially Maxwell, by their dramatic sense. Who, for example, is not familiar with Maxwell’s memoirs on his dynamical theory of gases?…The variations of the velocities are, at first, developed majestically; then from one side enter the equations of state; and from the other side, the equations of motion in a central field. Ever higher soars the chaos of formulae. Suddenly, we hear, as from kettle drums, the four beats “put n = 5.” The evil spirit V (the relative velocity of the two molecules) vanishes; and, even as in music, a hitherto dominating figure in the bass is suddenly silenced, that which had seemed insuperable has been overcome as if by a stroke of magic…This is not the time to ask why this or that substitution. If you are not swept along with the development, lay aside the paper. Maxwell does not write programme music with explanatory notes…One result after another follows in quick succession till at last, as the unexpected climax, we arrive at the conditions for thermal equilibrium together with the expressions for the transport coefficients. The curtain then falls (Chandrasekhar, 1979) !
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