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Atoms, Mechanics, and ProbabilityLudwig Boltzmann's Statistico-Mechanical Writings - An Exegesis$
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Olivier Darrigol

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198816171

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198816171.001.0001

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The Analogical Turn (1884–1887)

The Analogical Turn (1884–1887)

Chapter:
(p.271) 6 The Analogical Turn (1884–1887)
Source:
Atoms, Mechanics, and Probability
Author(s):

Olivier Darrigol

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198816171.003.0006

This chapter recounts how Boltzmann reacted to Hermann Helmholtz’s analogy between thermodynamic systems and a special kind of mechanical system (the “monocyclic systems”) by grouping all attempts to relate thermodynamics to mechanics, including the kinetic-molecular analogy, into a family of partial analogies all derivable from what we would now call a microcanonical ensemble. At that time, Boltzmann regarded ensemble-based statistical mechanics as the royal road to the laws of thermal equilibrium (as we now do). In the same period, he returned to the Boltzmann equation and the H theorem in reply to Peter Guthrie Tait’s attack on the equipartition theorem. He also made a non-technical survey of the second law of thermodynamics seen as a law of probability increase.

Keywords:   Hermann Helmholtz, monocyclic systems, ensembles, mechanical analogies, adiabatic transformations

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