Great Physicists: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking

By William H. Cropper | Go to book overview

iv
STATISTICAL
MECHAN

Historical Synopsis

In the first three parts of the book, the themes have been mechanics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism, which can be grouped under the broader heading of “macrophysics”—that is, the physics of objects of ordinary size and larger. This fourth part of the book addresses for the first time the vastly different realm of “microphysics.” As used here, the term means the physics of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. Microphysics will be a major theme in the book from now on, particularly here in part 4, and then in parts 6 (quantum mechanics), 7 (nuclear physics), and 8 (particle physics).

Molecules (and the atoms they contain) are very small, incredibly large in number, chaotic in their motion, and difficult to isolate and study as individuals. But populations of molecules, like human populations, can be described by statistical methods. The strategy is to focus on average, rather than individual, behavior. Insurance companies do their business this way, and so do molecular physicists. The insurance company statistician might calculate the average life span for an urban population of males in a certain income bracket. The physicist might seek an average energy for a population of gas molecules occupying a certain volume at a certain temperature. The method works well enough for the insurance company to make a profit, and even better for the physicist because molecules are far more numerous and predictable than human beings. By determining energy, or an average value for some other mechanical property of molecules, the physicist practices what Gibbs called “statistical mechanics.”

The single chapter in this part of the book introduces the man who did the most to define, develop, and defend statistical mechanics. He was Ludwig Boltzmann, who wrote his most important papers on statistical mechanics in the 1870s. For Boltzmann, statistical mechanics was most profitable in discussions of the entropy concept. He found a molecular basis for the second

-177-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Great Physicists: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 500

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.