By Peter Duren

ISBN-10: 0821801309

ISBN-13: 9780821801307

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That this random walk of the permanganate molecules, the same for all of them, should yet produce a regular flow towards the smaller concentration and ultimately make for uniformity of distribution, is at first sight perplexing but only at first sight. If you contemplate in Fig. 4 thin slices of approximately constant concentration, the permanganate molecules which in a given moment are contained in a particular slice will, by their random walk, it is true, be carried with equal probability to the right or to the left.

The answer to all the queries is in the affirmative. The Working of an Organism Requires Exact Physical Laws If it were not so, if we were organisms so sensitive that a single atom, or even a few atoms, could make a perceptible impression on our senses Heavens, what would life be like! To stress one point: an organism of that kind would most certainly not be capable of developing the kind of orderly thought which, after passing through a long sequence of earlier stages, ultimately results in forming, among many other ideas, the idea of an atom.

At first sight one is inclined to think that the conclusions are little more than trivial. A biologist of, say, thirty years ago might have said that, although it was quite suitable for a popular lecturer to emphasize the importance, in the organism as elsewhere, of statistical physics, the point was, in fact, rather a familiar truism. For, naturally, not only the body of an adult individual of any higher species, but every single cell composing it contains a 'cosmical' number of single atoms of every kind.

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A century of mathematics in America. by Peter Duren


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