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Ludwig Boltzmann

Librairie Eyrolles - Paris 5e

Ludwig Boltzmann

Ludwig Boltzmann

The Man Who Trusted Atoms

Carlo Cercignani

330 pages, parution le 12/01/2006


  • Unique detailed biography of Boltzmann, the scientist who marked the passage from 19th to 20th century physics.
  • Controversial aspects of Boltzmann's work in the light of modern research.
  • Discussion of Boltzmann's philosophical views (theory of knowledge, anticipation of Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions).
  • Review of Boltzmann's basic work in statistical mechanics.

Survey of Boltzmann's work in other fields (electromagnetism, continuum mechanics, foundations of mechanics, thermal radiation) and his influence on modern physics through the work of Einstein and Planck

This book presents the life and personality, the scientific and philosophical work of Ludwig Boltzmann, one of the great scientists who marked the passage from 19th- to 20th-Century physics. His rich and tragic life, ending by suicide at the age of 62, is described in detail. A substantial part of the book is devoted to discussing his scientific and philosophical ideas and placing them in the context of the second half of the 19th century. The fact that Boltzmann was the man who did most to establish that there is a microscopic, atomic structure underlying macroscopic bodies is documented, as is Boltzmann's influence on modern physics, especially through the work of Planck on light quanta and of Einstein on Brownian motion.

Boltzmann was the centre of a scientific upheaval, and he has been proved right on many crucial issues. He anticipated Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions and proposed a theory of knowledge based on Darwin. His basic results, when properly understood, can also be stated as mathematical theorems. Some of these have been proved: others are still at the level of likely but unproven conjectures. The main text of this biography is written almost entirely without equations. Mathematical appendices deepen knowledge of some technical aspects of the subject.

Readership: Scientists, historians and philosophers of science as well as for a wider public interested in the life and work of great scientists.


  • Figure acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • A short biography of Ludwig Boltzmann
  • Physics before Boltzmann
  • Kinetic theory before Boltzmann
  • The Boltzmann equation
  • Time irreversibility and the H-theorem
  • Boltzmann's relation and the statistical interpretation of entropy
  • Boltzmann, Gibbs and equilibrium statistical mechanics
  • The problem of polyatomic molecules
  • Boltzmann's contributions to other branches of physics
  • Boltzmann as a philosopher
  • Boltzmann and his contemporaries
  • The influence of Boltzmann's ideas on the science and technology of the twentieth century
  • Epilogue
  • Chronologys
  • "A German professor's journey to Eldorado"
  • Appendices
  • References
  • Index
Voir tout

Caractéristiques techniques

Éditeur(s) Oxford University Press
Auteur(s) Carlo Cercignani
Parution 12/01/2006
Nb. de pages 330
Format 15,5 x 23,5
Couverture Broché
Poids 654g
Intérieur Noir et Blanc
EAN13 9780198570646
ISBN13 978-0-19-857064-6

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