Boltzmann, Ludwig (Eduard)


Boltzmann, Ludwig (Eduard)

biographical name

(born Feb. 20, 1844, Vienna, Austria—died Sept. 5, 1906, Duino, Italy) Austrian physicist. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Vienna and thereafter taught at several German and Austrian universities. He was one of the first European scientists to recognize the importance of James Clerk Maxwell's electromagnetic theory. He explained the second law of thermodynamics by applying the laws of mechanics and the theory of probability to the motions of atoms, and he is remembered as the developer of statistical mechanics. His work was widely attacked and misunderstood; subject to depression after 1900, he eventually committed suicide. Shortly after his death, his conclusions were finally supported by discoveries in atomic physics and by recognition that phenomena such as Brownian motion could be explained only by statistical mechanics.

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