Journeys Made by Molecules
If a gas jet is turned on and not lighted, an odor of gas soon becomes perceptible, not only throughout the room, but in adjacent halls and even in distant rooms. An uncorked bottle of cologne scents an entire room, the odor of a rose or violet permeates the atmosphere near and far. These simple everyday occurrences seem to show that the molecules of a gas must be in a state of continual and rapid motion. In the case of the cologne, some molecules must have escaped from the liquid by the process of evaporation and traveled through the air to the nose. We know that the molecules of a liquid are in motion and are continually passing into the air because in time the vessel becomes empty. The only way in which this could happen would be for the molecules of the liquid to pass from the liquid into the surrounding medium; but this is really saying that the molecules are in motion.
From these phenomena and others it is reasonably clear that substances are composed of molecules, and that molecules are not inert, quiet particles, but that they are in incessant motion, moving rapidly hither and thither, sometimes traveling far, sometimes near. Even the log of wood which lies heavy and motionless on our woodpile is made up of countless billions of molecules each in rapid incessant motion. The molecules of solid bodies cannot escape so readily as those of liquids and gases, and do not travel far. The log lies year after year in an apparently motionless condition, but if one's eyes were keen enough, the molecules would be seen moving among themselves, even though they cannot escape into the surrounding medium and make long journeys as do the molecules of liquids and gases.