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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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Boltzmann’s contributions to other branches of physics

Boltzmann’s contributions to other branches of physics

(p.160) 9 Boltzmann’s contributions to other branches of physics
Ludwig Boltzmann


Oxford University Press

Ludwig Boltzmann's scientific activities were mainly devoted to statistical mechanics: in large measure to kinetic theory, but he also founded the formalism of equilibrium statistical mechanics for systems of a general kind, the paternity of which is usually, in a more or less explicit way, attributed to Josiah Willard Gibbs. About half of Boltzmann's publications deal with contributions to diverse areas, ranging over the fields of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and philosophy. This chapter examines this secondary but not negligible aspect of Boltzmann's scientific activity. Having fathomed the meaning of the theory and implications of James Clerk Maxwell's equations and in particular the unification between electromagnetism and optics, Boltzmann wrote his first paper on electrodynamics. He also studied the law that according to the Maxwell picture related the dielectric constant and the refractive index of a given material. This chapter looks at Boltzmann's contributions regarding Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, hereditary mechanics, theoretical physics, mathematics, and foundations of mechanics.

Keywords:   optics, theoretical physics, electromagnetism, James Clerk Maxwell, optics, hereditary mechanics, mathematics, mechanics, dielectric constant

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