American Journal of Physics
American Association of Physics Teachers
Biology | Life Sciences | Physics
A discussion of Robert Brown’s original observations of particles ejected by pollen of the plant Clarkia pulchella undergoing what is now called Brownian motion is given. We consider the nature of those particles and how he misinterpreted the Airy disk of the smallest particles to be universal organic building blocks. Relevant qualitative and quantitative investigations with a modern microscope and with a “homemade” single lens microscope similar to Brown’s are presented.
Pollen, Brownian motion, electron microscopes, viscosity, spherical aberrations, lipids, optical microscopes, organelles, interstellar dust, cell nucleus
© 2010 American Association of Physics Teachers
Pearle, Philip; Collett, Brian; Bart, Kenneth; Bilderback, David; Newman, Dara; and Samuels, D. Scott, "What Brown Saw and You Can Too" (2010). Biological Sciences Faculty Publications. 330.