Boltzmann’s Approach to Statistical Mechanics
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.
KeywordsPhase Space Phase Point Microscopic State Thermodynamic Entropy Microscopic Physic
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