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The Theory of Crookes's Radiometer



I HAVE noticed that the theory of this instrument is usually shirked in elementary books, even the best of them confining themselves to an account, and not attempting an explanation.1 Indeed, if it were necessary to follow Maxwell's and O. Reynolds's calculations, such restraint could easily be understood. In their mathematical work the authors named start from the case of ordinary gas in complete temperature equilibrium, and endeavour to determine the first effects of a small departure from that condition. So far as regards the internal condition of the gas, their efforts may be considered to be, in the main, successful, although (I believe) discrepancies are still outstanding. When they come to include the influence of solid bodies which communicate heat to the gas and the reaction of the gas upon the solids, the difficulties thicken. A critical examination of these memoirs, and a re-discussion of the whole question, would be a useful piece of work, and one that may be commended to our younger mathematical physicists.

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