Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin described election protesters as seeking 'Brownian motion.' Here's what the obscure term means.
/Yana LapikovaRIA Novosti/AP
Mr. Putin was referring to a physics phenomenon first described by Scottish scientist Robert Brown in his 1827 paper "A brief account of microscopical observations made on the particles contained in the pollen of plants."
While observing pollen grains suspended in water, Mr. Brown found that the grains jiggled and bounced within the fluid in what he called "rapid oscillatory motion." He could not see any cause of their motion – they didn't appear to impact any other particles, and he ruled out currents within the water – but he was able use other substances to consistently replicate the phenomenon, which he dubbed "Brownian motion."