The Kinetic - Molecular Theory of Matter

(Molecular Theory of Matter, Based On New Understanding of The Kinetic – Molecular Theory of Atomism)

Published: October 04, 2009


In 1799, the American physicist Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford (1753-1814), while working in a cannon factory, noticed that boring, or drilling, a hole into brass caused the brass to get hot. He also noticed that when the drilling stopped, and as time passed, the brass cooled. He concluded that the drilling work increased the motions of the molecules that made up the brass, and that when the drilling stopped and the brass cooled, it was because the motion of the molecules slowed. This understanding of the relationship between the motion of molecules and heat led to the development of the modern kinetic - molecular theory of matter. This theory states that matter consists of molecules, or particles, in motion. However, it calls heat a form of energy. Let it be understood that the English word “energy” is taken from the Greek word energeia, the Greek word for “activity”. Nothing exists but atoms and their energeia, or activity, except the void. As Thompson believed, heat is activity produced by the tiny aggregates of atoms called molecules, by means of certain kind of movement.

Thompson, like the Atomists, believed that atoms are absolutely solid particles that cannot be created or destroyed. In other words, he believed in the conservation of atoms, or matter.

About a hundred years after Thompson’s death, in 1905, the German - born American theoretical physicist Albert Einstein developed a new theory called the Special Theory of Relativity. This theory claimed that matter can be changed into energy and vice versa. Einstein used the famous equation E = mc2 (E = energy; m = matter, or mass; c2 = the speed of light squared) to express this claim. He even claimed that atoms could be split to release energy, or heat. By his time, the definition of energy had been falsified and the identity of the atom distorted. Energy was defined as the ability to do work and the atom was described as being splittable and larger than an electron. So, Einstein did not understand that matter is solid atoms, and that solid atoms can only group themselves together to form an object, or separate from each other. They cannot be changed into something that is not matter, called “energy”. He did not understand that energy is nothing but the activity of atoms.

As you try to understand the kinetic – molecular theory of matter, keep in mind that there is no such thing as kinetic energy; there is only kinetic matter. Heat is the activity of kinetic matter. Only matter can do work. Heat is a means by which matter does work.

From our understanding of the kinetic - molecular theory of matter, based on The Theory of Atomism, we are able to understand the relationship between power, energy, work, and heat. We understand that all matter possesses power (the ability to do work) from its sheer existence; that energy is the activity of matter directed toward work; that work is moving an object by using power to apply force to the object; and that heat, which cannot be separated from matter, is a means by which matter does work. We understand that the faster the molecules in matter move, the more heat there is.

The heat produced by atoms in motion causes the aggregate of atoms that make up an object to expand.