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Boltzmann, Ludwig Eduard (1844–1906)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DC102-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2003
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Boltzmann is famous in both physics and philosophy for interpreting thermodynamics in terms of molecular movement as if the second or ‘entropy’ law were merely statistically valid. This approach became a central aspect of statistical mechanics and helped influence Planck’s development of quantum mechanics and Einstein’s work on Brownian motion. The result helped place the reality of atoms, which had long been favoured by most scientists but opposed by many philosophers, beyond reasonable challenge. Toward the end of Boltzmann’s long struggle against the technical objections of physicists and mathematicians and the epistemological criticisms of philosophers the understanding of atoms by those scientists who accepted their reality began changing from indivisible particles to divisible ‘corpuscles’, which included electrons.

Citing this article:
Blackmore, John. Boltzmann, Ludwig Eduard (1844–1906), 2003, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DC102-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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