FIRST EDITION OF WATERSTON’S FOUNDATIONAL WORK IN STATISTICAL MECHANICS OF GASES.
This is a bound original extract. In 1845 Waterston submitted a paper [this paper] to the Philosophical Transactions that contained a number of ground breaking theories, including: Heat is the result of the motion of particles; One can compute the properties of a system of particles as a whole by averaging their possible states (predecessor to the “ergodic theorem”); In thermal equilibrium, energy is shared equally among all of its various forms (the “Equipartition theorem”); Gas pressure is a function of the number of molecules per unit volume, molecular mass and molecular velocity; The mean square molecular velocity is inversely proportional to the specific weight of the molecules; Temperature is proportional to the product of pressure and volume (the ideal gas law).
In short, Waterston’s paper was “an essentially correct and comprehensive kinetic theory…[that] included for the first time a statement of the equipartition of energy among molecules of different masses, it treated the speeds of the molecules, and it gave a satisfactory treatment of specific heats” (Laidler, Energy and the Unexpected, 48). However due to an absurd series of unfortunate decisions, the Phil Trans did not publish Waterston’s paper until 1892, nearly a decade after his death.
“The name of John James Waterston might have been added to the list of major contributors to kinetic theory and molecular theory but for an unfortunate bungling in the handling of his remarkable memoir submitted to the Royal Society in 1845. [The Royal Society rejected the paper and never returned to him, and he could not submit it elsewhere because he had not kept a copy.].
Upon discovery of the manuscript in the Archives of the Royal Society, Lord Rayleigh saw to it that it was published in 1892, almost fifty years too late. In his introduction to the publication Lord Rayleigh Commented “Impressed with the above passage and with the general ingenuity and soundness of Waterston’s views, I took the first opportunity of consulting the Archives, and saw at once that the memoir justified the large claims made for it, and that it marks an immense advance in the direction of the now generally received theory. The omission to publish it at the time was a misfortune, which probably retarded the development of the subject by ten or fifteen years” (Davis, The Airborne Microparticle, 18). Item #630
CONDITION & DETAILS: Bound extract from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A 183,1892, pp. 1–79. Quarto. (11.5 x 8.75 inches; 288 x 219mm). 2 plates. Tightly and solidly bound in later half calf over brown cloth (aged by conservator with small spots on the front board); gilt-lettered at the spine. One small library stamp on the bottom of the first page, otherwise pristine.