Brownian Motion

Brownian Motion is the random motion of particles suspended in a fluid (a liquid or a gas) resulting from their collision with the fast-moving molecules in the fluid.

This pattern of motion typically alternates random fluctuations in a particle’s position inside a fluid sub-domain with a relocation to another sub-domain.

Each relocation is followed by more fluctuations within the new closed volume. This pattern describes a fluid at thermal equilibrium, defined by a given temperature.

Within such fluid there exists no preferential direction of flow as in transport phenomena. More specifically the fluid’s overall linear and angular momenta remain null over time.

It is important also to note that the kinetic energies of the molecular Brownian motions, together with those of molecular rotations and vibrations sum up to the caloric component of a fluid’s internal energy.

This motion is named after the botanist Robert Brown, who was the most eminent microscopist of his time. In 1827, while looking through a microscope at pollen of the plant Clarkia pulchella immersed in water, the triangular shaped pollen burst at the corners, emitting particles which he noted jiggled around in the water in random fashion.

He was not able to determine the mechanisms that caused this motion. Atoms and molecules had long been theorized as the constituents of matter, and Albert Einstein published a paper in 1905 that explained in precise detail how the motion that Brown had observed was a result of the pollen being moved by individual water molecules, making one of his first big contributions to science.

This explanation of Brownian motion served as convincing evidence that atoms and molecules exist, and was further verified experimentally by Jean Perrin in 1908. Perrin was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1926 “for his work on the discontinuous structure of matter”.

The direction of the force of atomic bombardment is constantly changing, and at different times the particle is hit more on one side than another, leading to the seemingly random nature of the motion.

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