Fr.: mouvement brownien
The continuous random motion of solid microscopic particles immersed in a fluid, which is due to bombardment by the atoms and molecules of the medium. It is named after the botanist Robert Brown, who in 1827 first noticed that pollen seeds suspended in water moved in an irregular motion. While there were suspicions that the motion was caused by the collision of atoms against the particles, the first quantitative explanation of the phenomenon, based on the kinetic theory of gases, was forwarded by A. Einstein in 1905. When Einstein's paper appeared, the notion of atoms and molecules was still a subject of heated scientific debate. Ernst Mach and the physical chemist Wilhelm Ostwald were among those who chose to deny their existence.
Named after Robert Brown (1773-1858), a Scottish botanist, who first in 1827 noticed the erratic motion of pollen grains suspended in water. → motion.