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The New Quantum Universe, Second Edition by Patrick Walters, Tony Hey

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13 Afterword – quantum physics and science fiction

You read too many novels!

Richard Feynman

Prelude: the atom and the nucleus

Now that the atomic basis of matter is taught routinely in schools, it is difficult to imagine the suspicion and hostility towards atoms that existed at the end of the nineteenth century. This seems especially strange since the idea of atoms has been around since the fifth century BC in the writings of the Greek philosophers Leucippus and Democritus. Such distrust of the ‘atomic hypothesis’ is all the more surprising given that Daniel Bernoulli, James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann had all successfully used an atomic model of gases – with atoms as tiny hard spheres that could move and collide like billiard balls – to ...

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