Exploring the boundary between atoms and the continuum by computers: a personal history
Glorieta Freedom Ranch, Glorieta, NM, USA
Accepted: 5 March 2021
Published online: 18 March 2021
In this admittedly personal account of the history of atomistic simulations of fluids (at the atomic or molecular level), I will focus on the competing efforts to reach the boundary between atoms and the continuum. The prevailing wisdom was that thermal fluctuations at the atomistic scale—both time (a few mean collision times) and space (a few atomic spacings)—would make the connection virtually impossible. This is just a part of the story about how molecular dynamics was able to connect to Navier–Stokes–Fourier hydrodynamics. Resistance in the theoretical physics community to computer simulations of equilibrium fluids at the atomistic scale was only exceeded by the even stiffer objections to non-equilibrium molecular-dynamics simulations: after the fifty years from Boltzmann to molecular dynamics, it took another quarter century to overcome the doubts.
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021