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Quantum Mechanics by Giorgio Parisi, Mauro Fortunato, Gennaro Auletta

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11

Hydrogen and helium atoms

11.1 Introduction

As is well known, the concept of the atom appears for the first time as a hypothesis about the structure of matter by Democritus (c. 460 BC–c. 370 BC). Democritus also proposed a rudimentary mechanics: Atoms moved in straight lines and through their collisions bodies were formed and destroyed. It is also interesting to recall that later Epicurus (341 BC– 270 BC) and Lucretius (c. 94 BC–c. 49 BC) introduced a random, reasonless, deviation (clinamen) from the straight line in order to account for the contingency of our world. Though atomism remained a speculative theory for more than 2000 years, in modern ages it was still alive among many scientists and philosophers (Newton, Locke, Spinoza, etc.). ...

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