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Ludwig BoltzmannThe Man Who Trusted Atoms$
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Carlo Cercignani

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198570646

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198570646.001.0001

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Physics before Boltzmann

Physics before Boltzmann

(p.50) 2 Physics before Boltzmann
Ludwig Boltzmann


Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the state of physics when Ludwig Boltzmann began to contribute to its development, from Galileo and Isaac Newton, to the early atomic theories. Physics was in a phase characterized by two conflicting aspects: on the one hand, nobody had doubts about the basic structure erected by Newton after the sagacious innovation in both concepts and methods proposed by Galileo; on the other hand, the discoveries in the new areas of thermodynamics and electromagnetism were slowly transforming the imposing edifice in such a way that its inherent contradictions were sooner or later bound to come to light. This chapter cites the basic contributions of Alessandro Volta, Hans Christian Oersted, and Michael Faraday, along with the first connections between heat and mechanical energy, electricity, and magnetism.

Keywords:   magnetism, Galileo, Isaac Newton, electromagnetism, atomic theories, electricity, thermodynamics, mechanical energy, heat

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