Men and Ideas in the History of Atomic Theory [1971d]

  • Robert S. Cohen
  • John J. Stachel
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 21)


The elucidation of the atomic constitution of matter and of the constitution of the atoms themselves has been one of the most significant advances in knowledge in our time; not only because it has placed on a sure foundation a universal conception of the innermost workings of all material systems — from galaxies to living organisms. — but also because, unexpectedly, it has brought about deepened understanding of the structure and meaning of scientific theory. AH this progress has been the work of twentieth century physics: at the end of the preceding century, atoms were still hypothetical concepts; nowadays we know every detail of their constitution and properties, and are far advanced in the exploration of a still deeper structural layer — the elements out of which the atomic constituents are built, and the forces ensuring their stability. Every scientific enquiry involves a parallel development, in continual interaction, of experimental techniques and theoretical conceptions; when we lay the emphasis on theoretical issues, we should not forget that these issues have their origin in actual experimental situations, for it is only from this experimental origin that theoretical conclusions derive the peculiar character of inevitability that we express by the phrase “law of nature”.


Atomic System Classical Physic Quantum Transition Correspondence Principle Matter Wave 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert S. Cohen
  • John J. Stachel

There are no affiliations available

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