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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 Probabilistic Turn (1876–1884)

The Probabilistic Turn (1876–1884)

(p.181) 5 The Probabilistic Turn (1876–1884)
Atoms, Mechanics, and Probability

Olivier Darrigol

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with writings in which Boltzmann expressed the statistical nature of the entropy law and temporarily made the relation between entropy and combinatorial probability a basic constructive tool of his theory. In 1881, he discovered that this relation derived from what we now call the microcanonical distribution, and he approved Maxwell’s recent foundation of the equilibrium problem on the microcanonical ensemble. Boltzmann also kept working on problems he had tackled in earlier years. He proposed a new solution to the problem of specific heats, and he performed enormous calculations for the viscosity and diffusion coefficients in the hard-ball model. In a lighter genre, he conceived a new way of determining molecular sizes, and he speculated on a gas model in which the molecular forces would be entirely attractive.

Keywords:   Josef Loschmidt, reversibility paradox, entropy, probability, Boltzmann’s relation, discreteness, combinatorics, microcanonical ensemble, ergodicity, thermochemistry

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