## Configuration Spaces of Hard Discs in a Box

The "hard discs" model of matter has been studied intensely in statistical mechanics and theoretical chemistry for decades. From computer simulations it appears that there is a solid--liquid phase transition once the relative area of the discs is about 0.71, but little seems known mathematically. Indeed, Gian-Carlo Rota suggested that if we knew the total measure of the underlying configuration space, "we would know, for example, why water boils at 100 degrees on the basis of purely atomic calculations."