School Seminars and Colloquia

Ludwig Boltzmann, the genius of disorder


by Professor Giuseppe Mussardo

Institution: International School of Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy
Date: Wed 17th January 2007
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: JH Michell Theatre, Richard Berry Building, The University of Melbourne

Abstract: The 19th-century physicist Ludwig Boltzmann stirred up controversy by proposing that scientists could make intelligent guesses about the behavior of atoms, which, though they moved randomly, could be described by certain probabilistic generalizations. His suggestion, to explain thermodynamics by using statistical methods, went against the longstanding trend of assuming absolute fixed laws. These were profound and disturbing changes. This lecture discusses this engaging story of science and personal struggle of Ludwig Boltzmann, set against the intellectual climate of nineteenth-century Vienna, and shows how science has come to accept the reality of the invisible world.

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