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Ludwig Boltzmann: The Man Who Trusted Atoms Hardcover – December 10, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0198501541 ISBN-10: 0198501544

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198501544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198501541
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,550,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Cercignani's book does sterling service in bringing much of Boltzmann's extraordinary achievement to life, and in sketching the ways in which it was indeed linked with the predicaments of his time." London Review of Books

"This book is not just a biography. the main details of Boltzmann's life are covered in the first chapter. The rest of the book reviews the history and development of ideas associated with Boltzmann's contribution to science.This makes the book a useful source of information on other important fiqures such as Maxwell and Gibbs" The Mathematical Gazette

"The author- a theorectical physicist-does much more than simply listing Boltzmann's work. He also considers the historical context, describes the evolution of ideas prior to Boltzmann, discusses and explains Boltzmann's work...and his views on the philosophy of physics its influence on his contemporaries, and the developments initiated by it...both the physics and the mathematics are well presented with the non-specialist in mind" Zentralblatt Math

" ... the work is generously laced with translated quotations from Boltzmann's German writings and papers ... historians of science will find here a balanced and up-to-date account of this tragic figure, as well as an instructive account of Boltzamnn's philosophy of science." ambix

About the Author

Carlo Cercignani is a Professor of Theoretical Mechanics at Politecnico di Milano.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dr David J Bottomley on May 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Cercignani provides a stimulating biography of a great scientist. Boltzmann's greatness is difficult to state, but the fact that the author is still actively engaged in research into some of the finer, as yet unresolved issues provoked by Boltzmann's work is a measure of just how far ahead of his time Boltzmann was. It is also tragic to read of Boltzmann's persecution by his contemporaries, the energeticists, who regarded atoms as a convenient hypothesis, but not as having a definite existence. Boltzmann felt that atoms were real and this motivated much of his research. How Boltzmann would have laughed if he could have seen present-day scanning tunnelling microscopy images, which resolve the atomic structure at surfaces! If only all scientists would learn from Boltzmann's life story that it is bad for science to persecute someone whose views you do not share but cannot disprove. One surprising fact I learned from this book was how research into thermodynamics and statistical mechanics led to the beginnings of quantum theory (such as Planck's distribution law, and Einstein's theory of specific heat). Lecture notes by Boltzmann also seem to have influenced Einstein's construction of special relativity. Cercignani's familiarity with Boltzmann's work at the research level will probably set this above other biographies of Boltzmann for a very long time to come.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alan Earhart on December 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Why are you here? Why are you looking for a biography about Boltzmann? If you are looking for a strong science biography with a lot of mathematical detail, then you'll want this book. The book is not just a historical biography but a mathematical one. For this purpose I would have given it 5 stars.

However, I was looking for a biography in the same category as Lindley's "Degrees Kelvin" (William Thomson aka Lord Kelvin) or Mahon's "The Man Who Changed Everything" (James Clerk Maxwell). While much of the math is placed into appendices, chapters 4, 5, and 6 will be difficult for the typical science history reader. The first three chapters were wonderful and detailed the life of Ludwig Boltzmann. Before this book he was simply the guy who's name was attached to a constant (which is why I want to read more about him!).

The back cover praise is extremely misleading-

"...accessible to all..."

"Much of the book will be interesting to the general reader."

"I can warmly recommend the book to everybody who is interested in the history of science."

Umm... no. If the second paragraph of my review is what you are looking for then I would suggest you try Lindley's "Boltzmann's Atom". While I have yet to read it, I did read his book about William Thomson/Lord Kelvin, "Degrees Kelvin", and really enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amir Segal on November 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book for people interested with the history of science.
The book includes a detailed account of different aspects of Boltzmann's life and scientific achievements.

Recommended.
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