Societies and Academies

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    EDINBURGH. Royal Society, Dec. 21, 1896.—Lord Kelvin in the chair.—The first paper, on atomic configurations in molecules of gases according to Boscovich, was by the President himself. At the outset Lord Kelvin confessed that the problem was quite beyond him, and he only desired to throw out some suggestions. Boscovich's theory would quite well explain the atomic configuration of a gas if we could only apply it. In a monatomic gas the problem was fairly easy, collision between molecules leading to change in direction, either backwards on the original path, or at an angle, according as the impact was direct or oblique. For a diatomic gas we must imagine a “pair of somethings” held together by a mutual force which knocked about like one. He thought he could see why a diatomic gas should become monatomic when its temperature was sufficiently raised. But he could not yet understand why, when the process was reversed, molecules should combine in quartettes rather than in pairs, or triplets, and he illustrated his conjectures by means of models.

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    Societies and Academies. Nature 55, 238–240 (1897) doi:10.1038/055238b0

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