Atomic Theory from the 1880s to the 1940s: Presentation

PowerPoint Presentation

Slide One

By the end of the 19th century, most but not all scientists had accepted the tenets of thermodynamics. Key elements of thermodynamics, or the study of heat, are:

  • Atoms and molecules are responsible for the physical and chemical properties of substances
  • Heat is a form of energy
  • Atoms and molecules move faster (i.e. increase their kinetic motion) when heat is added

Slide Two

In 1905, a French chemist named Jean-Baptiste Perrin helped convince the remaining scientists of the validity of the atomic theory of matter. Perrin observed that pollen grains wiggle – and understood that this “wiggling” was caused by atoms that composed the fluid hitting the pollen grains. This discovery of Brownian motion proved that all substances comprise atoms in thermal motion.

Jean-Baptiste Perrin (

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