Bridgman, Percy W. Formerly, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Nobelist.
Holton, Gerald Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:August 2020
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An attempt to explain a certain class of physical phenomena by deducing them as necessary consequences of other phenomena regarded as more primitive or fundamental and less in need of explanation. When formulating a physical theory, any fundamental phenomena proposed to underlie the theory may at the time be undiscovered, so that part of the proof of the correctness of the theory consists in demonstrating the existence of the unknown, assumed phenomena. A classic example is the kinetic theory of gases, in which the pressure of a gas is explained as arising from the kinetic reactions of colliding molecules. The reality of these kinetic reactions was established only later by the discovery of phenomena such as the Brownian fluctuations. See also: Brownian movement; Gas; Kinetic theory of matter; Pressure
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