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  7:30 pm, Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Fairmont Lounge, St. John's College

Atoms, Entropy, & Quanta

Einstein's Statistical Physics of 1905

John D. Norton

University of Pittsburgh

In his "year of miracles" of 1905, Einstein showed how the macroscopic properties of matter contained a signature that revealed its atomic constitution. He could now estimate the minuscule size of atoms and demonstrate to reluctant colleagues that matter had to be atomic. He then noticed this same signature of granularity in the properties of heat radiation. The result - the prediction of 'light quanta' - was the only one of his discoveries that he called "very revolutionary" (unlike relativity!). This lecture, intended for a popular audience, recounts the story and the lessons we can draw from it, both about Einstein and about science.

To learn more please visit his webpage.

Additional resources for this talk: slides, video.