Jacob Israelachvili: A brief history of intermolecular and intersurface forces
Jacob Israelachvili, professor in chemical engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara, will give us an account on the history of the ideas, concepts and theories of intermolecular, inter-particle and inter-surface forces. Jacob Israelachvili is visiting PGP in connection with the installation of the Surface Forces Apparatus (SFA), which he has been leading the development of since the 1970s. He is also well known as the author of the book Intermolecular and Surface Forces.
The talk will review the developments of ideas, concepts and theories of intermolecular, inter-particle and inter-surface forces, and how these were influenced (or ignored) by observations of nature and, later, systematic experimentation and theoretical modeling. We review the way things gradually changed: experiments replaced rhetoric, measurement and quantification replaced hand waving, energy replaced force in calculations, discrete atoms replaced the (continuum) aether, thermodynamics replaced mechanistic models, randomness and probability replaced certainty, and delicate experiments at the sub-nano scale revealed fascinating self-assembling structures and complex behavior of even the simplest systems and phenomena including dynamic (non-equilibrium) effects in adhesion, friction, electrochemical dissolution in confined spaces, colloidal and biological interactions.