This book, like the others in the Series, is written in simple English – the language most widely used in science and technology. It builds on the foundations laid in Books 1-4, which covered many parts of Mathematics and Physics.
But the approach will be a bit different. In Book 4, we were able to start from simple observations about the way things move when they are pushed or pulled; and then to introduce concepts, like force and mass, and finally to set up ‘laws of motion’ for simple systems consisting of a few point masses or ‘particles’. From there we could pass directly into the foundations of Physics. But in the present book we’re going to be talking about particles so small that nobody can ever even see them. All the things around us, sticks and stones, flesh and bones, and even the air we breathe, are made up from countless millions of such particles. They are called atoms and when they are put together they give us various forms of matter: sometimes the atoms stick together in small groups, called molecules; or in enormous groups (with the atoms arranged in a repeating pattern), forming crystals like salt or ice; sometimes the atoms stay apart and move around at high speed, as in air and other gases. All these forms of matter are studied in Chemistry and this interpretation of what matter consists of, going back to ancient times, is the atomic hypothesis.
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