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Journal of Statistical Physics

, Volume 156, Issue 1, pp 1–9 | Cite as

Reflections on Gibbs: From Statistical Physics to the Amistad V3.0

  • Leo P. Kadanoff
Article

Abstract

This note is based upon a talk given at an APS meeting in celebration of the achievements of J. Willard Gibbs. J. Willard Gibbs, the younger, was the first American physical sciences theorist. He was one of the inventors of statistical physics. He introduced and developed the concepts of phase space, phase transitions, and thermodynamic surfaces in a remarkably correct and elegant manner. These three concepts form the basis of different areas of physics. The connection among these areas has been a subject of deep reflection from Gibbs’ time to our own. This talk therefore celebrated Gibbs by describing modern ideas about how different parts of physics fit together. I finished with a more personal note. Our own J. Willard Gibbs had all his many achievements concentrated in science. His father, also J. Willard Gibbs, also a Professor at Yale, had one great non-academic achievement that remains unmatched in our day. I describe it.

Keywords

Philosophy of science History of science Statistical physics 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I have had useful discussions about this work with Michael Fisher, Steve Berry, Marko Kleine Berkenbusch, Robert Batterman, and Michael Berry. I am indebted to Amy Kolan and her senior class at St. Olaf for helpful critical comments. Research supported in part by NSF-DMR and also by the University of Chicago MRSEC and NSF grant number DMR-0820054.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The James Franck InstituteThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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