S=k·logW. This is the most beautiful and most depressing equation around. This equation describes how our universe is pre-programmed to fall apart. Essentially it represents the fact that everything will die in the universe as the universe slowly slips from order into disorder. It also represents the infinite complexity of our universe and ultimately leads up to the ultimate variable, us.
Available energy is the main object at stake in the struggle for existence and the evolution of the world.
Ludwig Boltzmann (1844–1906), Austrian physicist
In 1877 Boltzmann used statistical ideas to gain valuable insight into the meaning of entropy. He realised that entropy could be thought of as a measure of disorder, and that the second law of thermodynamics expressed the fact that disorder tends to increase. You have probably noticed this tendency in everyday life! However, you might also think that you have the power to step in, rearrange things a bit, and restore order. For example, you might decide to tidy up your wardrobe. Would this lead to a decrease in disorder, and hence a decrease in entropy? Actually, it would not. This is because there are inevitable side-effects: whilst sorting out your clothes, you will be breathing, metabolising and warming your surroundings. When everything has been taken into account, the total disorder (as measured by the entropy) will have increased, in spite of the admirable state of order in your wardrobe. The second law of thermodynamics is relentless. The total entropy and the total disorder are overwhelmingly unlikely to decrease.
Boltzmann’s contribution was vital, but had a tragic outcome. Towards the end of the nineteenth century several puzzling facts (which eventually led to quantum theory), triggered a reaction against ‘materialist’ science, and some people even questioned whether atoms exist. Boltzmann, whose work was based on the concept of atoms, found himself cast as their chief defender and the debates became increasingly bitter. Always prone to bouts of depression, Boltzmann came to believe that his life’s work had been rejected by the scientific community, although this was far from being true. In 1906, he committed suicide. If despair over rejection, or frustration over being unable to prove his point, were contributing factors the irony would be great indeed. Soon after Boltzmann’s death, clinching evidence was found for atoms, and few would ever doubt their existence again.
Was writing physics notes, and accidentally wrote Bolton instead of Boltzmann. So now according to my notes, the star player of the East High Wildcats derived a formula for velocity distribution in a gas.
Boltzmann! I like thinking about entropy and kinetic theory and energetics. At the time he was the only physicist to believe atoms/molecules were physical entities as opposed to theoretical constructs. He has his equation for entropy written on his grave (not sure if real or tribute grave). He was the first to make the link between entropy and probability in gases. It must have been really amazing to be the first person in the world to think about something like that. He did loads of other stuff but I don’t study physics so I don’t understand it but I bet it’s fab.
Shuji Nakamura’s invention of high efficiency LEDs enable us to reduce global energy consumption by an amount corresponding to 60 nuclear power stations by 2020, for which he was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Still, a poster child for bottom-up innovation, Shuji Nakamura was sued by his employer, left for the USA, and is now building a company in…
Apparently, Boltzmann’s atom set off a revolution of sorts, as there are books everywhere on amazon.com about it, and how revolutionary it was. To start, he was an Austrian physicist, and he made a huge contribution to science. He learned statistical mechanics, with looked over temperature and pressure and such. One could study these by the mathematical study of how molecules moved according to the laws of mechanics.
He explained thermodynamics using the laws of mechanics and the probability of the motions of atoms. He’s generally remembered as the father of statistical mechanics, though. He was widely misunderstood, and because of that (a subject of depression) in 1900, he committed suicide. If he had only waited, he would have lived long enough to see that his theories would be supported just a few years later, by some discoveries in atomic physics.
The mystery surrounding Stonehenge has suddenly deepened — literally. A first-of-its-kind study suggests that 15 previously undiscovered or poorly understood monuments lie hidden under the ancient stone monument and its surroundings.
For the study, researchers used a variety of techniques — including ground-penetrating radar and 3D laser scanning — to create a highly…