In this last chapter, the reader will find synthetic reflections on Boltzmann’s sources, on the basic components of his theory, and on the ways it was received. The basic components are arranged according to the natural order in which they occurred in Boltzmann’s theory making: constructive tools, chief constructions, crucial predictions, underlying concepts, bridges between different approaches. To fully understand his enterprise, one must embrace his theory as an entire whole organism. This is a difficult and time-consuming task, which this book is meant to ease. In the past, Boltzmann’s readers fortunately did not need a historian’s thoroughness in order to benefit from his multiple constructs and insights. These elements, even taken out of context, had enough power to propel diverging theoretical projects from Boltzmann’s times to ours. In many ways, Boltzmann’s theory anticipated the richness, diversity, and residual opacity of modern statistical mechanics.
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