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Galileo UnboundA Path Across Life, the Universe and Everything$
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David D. Nolte

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805847

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805847.001.0001

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The Tangled Tale of Phase Space

The Tangled Tale of Phase Space

Chapter:
(p.121) Chapter 6 The Tangled Tale of Phase Space
Source:
Galileo Unbound
Author(s):

David D. Nolte

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198805847.003.0006

This chapter presents the history of the development of the concept of phase space. Phase space is the central visualization tool used today to study complex systems. The chapter describes the origins of phase space with the work of Joseph Liouville and Carl Jacobi that was later refined by Ludwig Boltzmann and Rudolf Clausius in their attempts to define and explain the subtle concept of entropy. The turning point in the history of phase space was when Henri Poincaré used phase space to solve the three-body problem, uncovering chaotic behavior in his quest to answer questions on the stability of the solar system. Phase space was established as the central paradigm of statistical mechanics by JW Gibbs and Paul Ehrenfest.

Keywords:   history of statistical mechanics, Liouville, Jacobi, Boltzmann, Hamilton, Clausius, entropy, energy, multidimensional space

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