Monday, November 15, 2010

Lucretius speaks to us of atoms

Clothes hung above a surf-swept shore grow damp; spread in the sun they dry again. Yet it is not apparent to us how the moisture clings to the cloth, or flees the heat. Water, then, is dispersed in particles, atoms too small to be observable.
For surely the atoms did not hold council assigning order to each, flexing their keen minds with questions of place and motion and who goes where. But shuffled and jumbled in many ways, in the course of endless time they are buffeted, driven along, chancing upon all motions, combinations. At last they fall into such an arrangement as would create this universe..

-Lucretius (De rerum natura)
as quoted by David Lindley in Boltzmann's Atom