Advertisement

Physics in Perspective

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 4–32 | Cite as

George Hartley Bryan, Ludwig Boltzmann, and the Stability of Flight

  • T. James M. Boyd
Article

Abstract

A century ago, George Hartley Bryan (1864–1928) published his classic book, Stability in Aviation. I draw together some strands from events that awakened his interest in the nascent science of aviation, in particular the stability of flight. Prominent among those who influenced him was Ludwig Boltzmann (1844–1906), who held Bryan in high esteem for his contributions to thermodynamics and kinetic theory. I argue that the seeds of Bryan’s interest in aviation were sown at the British Association meeting at Oxford in the summer of 1894, at which Boltzmann was guest of honor. A joint discussion between Section A (Mathematical and Physical Science) and Section G (Mechanical Science) was devoted to the problems of flight, during the course of which Boltzmann revealed a hitherto unsuspected enthusiasm for flying.

Keywords

George Hartley Bryan Ludwig Boltzmann Friedrich Ahlborn Samuel H. Burbury Edward Teshmaker Busk Octave Chanute Rudolf Clausius Edward P. Culverwell Albert Einstein George Francis FitzGerald Edgar Henry Harper Harold Hilton Lord Kelvin Samuel Pierpont Langley Frederick William Lanchester Joseph Larmor Otto Lilienthal Oliver Lodge Hiram S. Maxim Max Planck Lord Rayleigh Arnold Sommerfeld William Ellis Williams Wilbur Wright University of Cambridge Trinity College, Dublin University College of North Wales British Association for the Advancement of Science National Physical Laboratory Royal Institution of Great Britain thermodynamics kinetic theory H-theorem aviation aerodynamics stability in flight history of physics 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am particularly indebted to Roger H. Stuewer for his many helpful suggestions and for providing a number of photographs and additional references. I am grateful for the access I have been given by the Archives Section of the University Library at Bangor to records of the Minutes of the Court of Governors; to Frank James of the Royal Institution for sending me a copy of Bryan’s 1901 paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Institution; to Michael Miller, Archives Division of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, for providing me with copies of the Bryan-Sommerfeld correspondence; to the Royal Dublin Society for access to their Archive of George Francis FitzGerald’s correspondence; to Ms. Catriona Mulcahy for providing me with information on Edgar Henry Harper, and to Professor Boye Ahlborn, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, for providing me with details of early work on the stability of flight by his grandfather, Professor Friedrich Ahlborn.

References

  1. 1.
    Otto Lilienthal, Der Vogelflug als Grundlage der Fliegekunst: Ein Beitrag zur Systematik der Flugtechnik. Auf Grund zahlreicher von O. und G. Lilienthal ausgeführter Versuche (Berlin: R. Gaertners Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1889); Zweite vermehrte Auflage (München and Berlin: Druck und Verlag von R. Oldenbourg, 1910); translated from the Second Edition by A.W. Isenthal as Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation: A Contribution Towards a System of Aviation. Compiled from the Results of Numerous Experiments made by O. and G. Lilienthal (London, New York, Bombay, Calcutta: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1911).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Silvio R. Dahmen, “Boltzmann and the Art of Flying,” Physics in Perspective 11 (2009), 244-260.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    S.P. Langley, Experiments in Aerodynamics (City of Washington: Published by the Smithsonian Institution, 1891).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Meitner, quoted in Carlo Cercignani, Ludwig Boltzmann: The Man Who Trusted Atoms (Oxford, New York, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 38.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    G.H. Bryan, Stability in Aviation: An Introduction to Dynamical Stability as applied to the Motions of Aeroplanes (London: MacMillan and Co., 1911).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    G.H. Bryan and W.E.Williams, “The Longitudinal Stability of Aerial Gliders,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London [A] 73 (1904), 100-116.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ibid., p. 100.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    S. Brodetsky, “Prof. G.H. Bryan, F.R.S.,” Nature 122 (1928), 849-850, on 850.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    L.B. [Leonard Bairstow], “George Hartley Bryan 1864-1928,” Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 1 (1933), 139-142, on 139.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    A.B. Bassett, “Reply to a paper by Mr.G.H. Bryan,” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 8 (1892-1895), 327-329.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    J. Larmor and G.H. Bryan, “On the present state of our knowledge of Thermodynamics, especially with regard to the Second Law,” Report of the Sixty-First Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Cardiff in August 1891 (London: John Murray, 1892), 85-122.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., p. 92.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Records of the Tercentenary Festival of the University of Dublin held 5 th to 8 th July, 1892 (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, & Co. and London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1894).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Boltzmann to FitzGerald, June 4, 1892, G.F. FitzGerald Correspondence, Royal Dublin Society Archive.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Tercentenary Festival (ref. 13), Appendix G, p. 315 (Table K, Seats 334 and 355).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    G.H. Bryan, “Prof. Ludwig Boltzmann,” Nature 74 (1906), 569-570, on 570.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ibid., p. 570.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    G.H. Bryan, “The Laws of Distribution of Energy and their Limitations. (With an Appendix by Prof. Ludwig Boltzmann),” Report of the Sixty-Fourth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Oxford in August 1894 (London: John Murray, 1894), 64-106.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ludwig Boltzmann, Appendix C, “On the Application of the Deterimantal Relation to the Kinetic Theory of Polyatomic Gases,” ibid., pp. 102-106; reprinted in Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen. III. Band. 1882-1905, ed. Fritz Hasenöhrl (Leipzig: J.A. Barth, 1909; reprinted New York: Chelsea, 1968), pp. 520-525.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    “The British Association,” Nature 50 (1894), 369.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Boltzmann to Ostwald, June 1, 1895, in Walter Höflechner, ed., Ludwig Boltzmann: Leben und Briefe. Teil II. Briefe von und an Ludwig Boltzmann (Graz: Akademische Druck-u. Verlagsanstalt, 1994), pp. 237-238.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    G.H. Bryan “The Kinetic Theory of Gases,” Nature 51 (1894) 152.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    G.H. Bryan and Ludwig Boltzmann, “On the Mechanical Analogue of Thermal Equilibrium between Bodies in Contact,” Proceedings of the Physical Society of London 13 (1894), 485-493; reprinted in German in Boltzmann, Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen (ref. 19), pp. 510-519.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ludwig Boltzmann, “On Maxwell’s Method of deriving the Equations of Hydrodynamics from the Kinetic Theory of Gases,” Report of the Sixty-Fourth Meeting of the British Association (ref. 18), p. 579; reprinted in Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen (ref. 19), pp. 526-527.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bryan, “The Kinetic Theory of Gases” (ref. 22), p. 152.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    G.H. Bryan, “Prof. Boltzmann and the Kinetic Theory of Gases,” Nature 51 (1894), 31.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    George Jaffé, “Recollections of Three Great Laboratories,” Journal of Chemical Education 29 (1952), 230-238, on 235.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    “The British Association,” Nature 50 (1894), 400-401, on 400.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Boltzmann, quoted in Bryan, “Prof. Ludwig Boltzmann” (ref. 16), p. 570.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Oliver Lodge, “Experiments illustrating Clerk Maxwell’s Theory of Light,” Report of the Sixty-Fourth Meeting (ref. 18), pp. 582, 814; see also “Physics at the British Association,” Nature 50 (1894), 406-409, on 408, and 463.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Lord Rayleigh and W. Ramsay, “Preliminary account of a New Gaseous Constituent of Air,” Report of the Sixty-Fourth Meeting (ref. 18), p. 614; see also “The British Association,” Nature 50 (1894), 369-370, and “Chemistry at the British Association,” ibid., 409-411, on 410.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    S.P. Langley, “On recent Researches on the Infra-Red Spectrum,” Report of the Sixty-Fourth Meeting (ref. 18), pp. 465-474 (with 3 foldout plates); see also “Physics at the British Association” (ref. 30), p. 407.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    “A Discussion on Flight,” Report of the Sixty-Fourth Meeting (ref. 18), p. 557.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    “Science in the Magazines,” Nature 50 (1894), 489; see also G.H. Bryan, “Artificial Flight,” Science Progress 6 (1897), 531-553, on 540.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Langley, Experiments in Aerodynamics (ref. 3).Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Lord Kelvin, “Towards the Efficiency of Sails, Windmills, Screw-Propellers in Water and Air, and Aeroplanes,” Nature 50 (1894), 425-426.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    L. Boltzmann, “Ueber Luftschifffahrt,” Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte. Erster Theil. Die allgemeinen Sitzungen (1894), 89-96; reprinted in Populäre Schriften (Leipzig: J.A. Barth, 1905), pp. 81-91.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Boltzmann to Lilienthal, August to early September 1894, in Höflechner, Boltzmann (ref. 21), letter 377 [summary], p. 220.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Dahmen, “Boltzmann and the Art of Flying” (ref. 2), pp. 248-250.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    “Notes,” Nature 50 (August 16, 1894), 393.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Lilienthal to FitzGerald, February 4, 1895, G.F. FitzGerald Correspondence, Royal Dublin Society Archive.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Octave Chanute, Progress in Flying Machines (New York: American Engineer and Railroad Journal, 1894).Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Ibid., p. 257.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    For a complete list, see Höflechner, Boltzmann (ref. 21). Teil I. Ludwig Boltzmann. Dokumentation eines Professorenlebens, pp. 137-138.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Edwd. P. Culverwell, “Dr. Watson’s Proof of Boltzmann’s Theorem on Permanence of Distributions,” Nature 50 (1894), 617.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    S.H. Burbury, “Boltzmann’s Minimum Function,” Nature 51 (1894), 78.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    G.H. Bryan, “The Kinetic Theory of Gases,” Nature 51 (1894), 175-176.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Ludwig Boltzmann, “On Certain Questions of the Theory of Gases,” Nature 51 (1895), 413-415; idem, “Professor Boltzmann’s Letter on the Kinetic Theory of Gases,” ibid., 581; idem, “On the Minimum Theorem in the Theory of Gases,” ibid. 52 (1895), 221; reprinted in Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen (ref. 19), pp. 535-544, 545, 546.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Edwd. P. Culverwell, “Boltzmann’s Minimum Theorem,” Nature 52 (1895), 149.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    G.H. Bryan, “On the Sailing Flight of Birds,” Report of the Sixty-Sixth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Liverpool in September 1896 (London: John Murray, 1896), pp. 726-731.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Lilienthal, Der Vogelflug (ref. 1).Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    C. Runge, “The Death of Lilienthal,” Nature 54 (September 3, 1896), 413-414, on 414; see also F.W. Lanchester, Aerodonetics (London: A. Constable and Co., 1908), p. 148.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Private communication, Professor Boye Ahlborn, University of British Columbia, grandson of Professor Friedrich Ahlborn, August 6, 2011.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Höflechner, Boltzmann. Teil II (ref. 21), pp. 257-258.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Reported in Nature 53 (1896), 420.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Bryan, “Artificial Flight” (ref. 34).Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Fr. Ahlborn, “Über die Stabilität der Flugapparate,” Abhandlungen aus dem Gebiete der Naturwissenschaften 15 (1897), 1-51.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Ludwig Boltzmann, Vorlesungen über Gastheorie. I. Theil. Theorie der Gas mit einatomigen Molekülen, deren Dimensionen gegen die mittlere Weglänge verschwinden (Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1894); II. Theil. Theorie van der Waals’; Gase mit zusammengesetzten Molekülen; Gasdissociation; Schlussbemerkungen (Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1898).Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Wolfgang L. Reiter, “Ludwig Boltzmann: A Life of Passion,” Phys. in Perspec. 9 (2007), 357-374, especially 365-366.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    G.H. Bryan, “Allgemeine Grundlegung der Thermodynamik,” in A. Sommerfeld, ed., Encyklopädie der Mathematischen Wissenschaften mit Einschluss ihrer Anwendungen. Fünfter Band. Erster Teil. Physik (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1903), pp. 71-160.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Bryan to Sommerfeld, November 29, 1899, Sommerfeld Correspondence, American Philosophical Society Archive, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    G.H.B[ryan], “History and Progress of Aerial Locomotion,” Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain 16 (1899-1901), 487-492.Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    E. Stuart Bruce, “Mechanical Flight,” Flight 1, No. 7-8 (February 13, 20, 1909), 97-98, 108-109, on 109. The paper Bryan read at the December 3, 1903, meeting was published as G.H. Bryan and W.E. Williams, “The Longitudinal Stability of Aëroplane Gliders,” The Aëronautical Journal 8 (January 1904), 12-19 (with 1 foldout plate).Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Wilbur Wright, “Some Aeronautical Experiments,” website <http://www.wright-house.com/wright-brothers/Aeronautical.html>.
  65. 65.
    Ibid., p. 8 (of 15).Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Bryan, “Allgemeine Grundlegung der Thermodynamik” (ref. 60).Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Harold Hilton, Mathematical Crystallography and the Theory of Groups and Movements (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1903).Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    E.J. Routh, Treatise on the Stability of a Given State of Motion (London: Macmillan, 1877).Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Bryan and Williams, “Longitudinal Stability” (ref. 6), p. 114.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Ibid., p. 100.Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Report of the Seventy-Third Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Southport in September 1903 (London: John Murray, 1904).Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    G.H. B[ryan], “Ludwig Boltzmann,” Obituary Notices of Fellows, Proc. Roy. Soc. Lon. [A] 80 (1908), xi-xiii, on xiii.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    G.H. Bryan, “The Law of Degradation of Energy as the fundamental principle of thermodynamics,” in Stefan Meyer, ed., Festschrift Ludwig Boltzmann gewidmet zum sechzigsten Geburtstage 20. Februar 1904 (Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth), pp. 123-136.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Max Planck, “Über die mechanische Bedeutung der Temperatur und der Entropie,” ibid., pp. 113-122.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    A.E., “[Review of] G.H. Bryan. Das Gesetz von der Entwertung der Energie als Fundamentalprinzip der Thermodynamik,” Beiblätter zu den Annalen der Physik 29 (1905), 237; reprinted in John Stachel, ed., The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. Vol. 2. The Swiss Years: Writings, 1900-1909 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), Doc. 9, p. 121; translated by Anna Beck (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), Doc. 9, p. 80.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Ludwig Boltzmann, “The Relations of Applied Mathematics,” in Howard J. Rogers, ed., Congress of Arts and Science Universal Exposition, St. Louis, 1904. Vol. IV. Physics Chemistry Astronomy Sciences of the Earth (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1906), pp. 591-603; reprinted in Katherine R. Sopka, ed., Physics for a New Century: Papers Presented at the 1904 St. Louis Congress (New York: Tomash Publishers and American Institute of Physics, 1986), pp. 267-279.Google Scholar
  77. 77.
    G.H. Bryan, “Progress in Aërial Navigation,” Nature 71 (1905), 463-465, on 463, 465.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    G.H. Bryan, Thermodynamics: An Introductory Treatise dealing mainly with First Principles and Their Direct Applications (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, New York: E. Steichert & Co., and London: David Nutt, 1907).Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Reiter, “Ludwig Boltzmann” (ref. 59), pp. 367-368.Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Ibid., pp. 368-369.Google Scholar
  81. 81.
    Bryan, “Prof. Ludwig Boltzmann” (ref. 16).Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    B[ryan], “Ludwig Boltzmann” (ref. 72).Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Ibid., p. xiii.Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    G.H. Bryan, “The Correlation of the Teaching of Mathematics and Science” [Report of a Conference held by The Mathematical Association in Conjunction with the Federated Associations of London Non-Primary Teachers], The Mathematical Gazette 5 (1909), 1-40, on 1.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Bryan, Stability in Aviation (ref. 5), p. vi.Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Ibid., p. 8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for PhysicsUniversity of EssexColchesterUK

Personalised recommendations