After philosophers argued for millennia about whether or not matter consisted of atoms, the arguments became focused in the 18th century on empirical observations. Thus began one of the greatest scientific detective stories ever. Who were the sleuths? What were the clues? Why were the observations that atoms exist so persuasive that the 1912 Nobel Prize in Physics announced an end to the debate — long before atoms could be “seen” directly and manipulated individually?

Colston Chandler studied mathematics and physics at Brown University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. His research was published in leading mathematics and physics journals. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and professor emeritus of physics at UNM. He is also an outdoor enthusiast who has led many Oasis walks (mostly in the bosque).