Boltzmann’s Approach to Statistical Mechanics

  • Sheldon Goldstein
Part of the Lecture Notes in Physics book series (LNP, volume 574)


In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Ludwig Boltzmann explained how irreversible macroscopic laws, in particular the second law of thermodynamics, originate in the time-reversible laws of microscopic physics. Boltzmann’s analysis, the essence of which I shall review here, is basically correct. The most famous criticisms of Boltzmann’s later work on the subject have little merit. Most twentieth century innovations —such as the identification of the state of a physical system with a probability distribution (o on its phase space, of its thermodynamic entropy with the Gibbs entropy of (o, and the invocation of the notions of ergodicity and mixing for the justification of the foundations of statistical mechanics—are thoroughly misguided.


Phase Space Phase Point Microscopic State Thermodynamic Entropy Microscopic Physic 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheldon Goldstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Mathematics and PhysicsRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA

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