July 17, 2024


It's Your Education

Critique of Sir William Bragg’s Book: Concerning The Nature Of Atoms

Critique of Sir William Bragg’s Book: Concerning The Nature Of Atoms

Sir William Bragg, Nobel prize-winning physicist, developed the Law of Diffraction. With this formula, scientists can measure an atom’s diameter. The measure is so minute as to defy comprehension, but x-rays diffracted from a crystal’s atom surface can be measured with a consistency beyond disputation; therefore, we can know the dimensions of any atom, measured in increments of one-hundred millionth centimeter (10-8 cm), expressed as one Angstrom.

Bragg describes a Universe entirely consisted of atoms, in both gaseous and compound state, and where: combination takes place, and something in the atom itself maintains it when conditions are satisfied. The whole of chemistry is concerned with the nature of these conditions and their results; however, the atoms are never perfectly still; at the least, they vibrate and quiver about average positions, just as the parts of an iron bridge quiver when a train vibrates its span.

Sir William reduces the complexities of science to the most common language; indeed, the book is a physical science primer; yet, it contains considerable information not familiar to the majority. His dissertation requires no scientific background of readers, even while investigating the complex nature, dimension, energy incentives, and attraction between particular atoms — especially the propensity of molecules to grow into more complex conglomerates and in a predictable fashion.

First, as an ancient Alchemist, now in learned science and advanced biochemistry, man endeavors to harness atoms to his own specification and to special needs. Hydrocarbon fuels are a prime example; for here, in the world of atom bonding, crude oil can be refined into ethylene, hexahydrobenzene, naphthalene, etc., simply by addition or removal of carbon-hydrogen attachments. Therefore, we can understand how the simplest molecule (bonding between two or more atoms) can be transformed into more complex forms in the presence of light, temperature, and pressure.

Your critique author would suggest the presence of ‘atom intellectuality,’ in molecular propensity to inhere attraction to its benefit; for, without question, each human body cell (through atom covalence and molecular interaction) communicates with its neighbor cells for mutual survival and programs its own cellular existence independent of contribution from sentient cognizance. However, this observation is beyond Bragg’s intent; for he would address laboratory procedures to determine the mass and number of different elements and therefore the element’s basic properties — not neglecting atom propensity to seek beneficial bonding with other atoms. He continues: ‘in combinations lies their importance. Atoms may be compared to letters of the alphabet, which can be put together into innumerable ways to form words. So can atoms be combined in equal variety to form what we call molecules.’

From radioactive measurement of the different elements, Sir William posits the atoms to be so minute as to require measurement in the 1/100,000,000th cm. To further elucidate atom smallness, electron size is posited to be approximately 1/10,000th of the nucleus. If the reader has some interest concerning the nature of things, then, this book is recommended for novitiate and scholar alike, as a primary introduction to physical science; here, those with interest can investigate the most fundamental nature of atoms in gases, liquids, crystals, and metals.

We, as humans, are but a mass of atomic compounds; our body cells and substrates contain intelligence able to propagate their own survival; and surely, we, intellectually endowed by atomic interaction, would be curious about the intelligence independently committed to sustain our composite intellectuality.