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"one of the greatest achievements of nineteenth-century science":
Ludwig Boltzmann's derivation and proof of the second law of thermodynamics

Ludwig Boltzmann: First edition

"The problems of the mechanical theory of heat are problems in the theory of probability." -Boltzmann

"In 1872 … Boltzmann wrote a long memoir with the uninformative title, 'Further Studies on the Thermal Equilibrium of Gas Molecules'. This memoir contains the Boltzmann equation … but that is only one of its remarkable features. For it was in this memoir that Boltzmann also gave the first derivation of the irreversible increase of entropy on the joint basis of the laws of mechanics and the laws of probability. Even these two major results do not exhaust the riches of this work …” (Klein). 

BOLTZMANN, Ludwig. Weitere Studien über das Wärmegleichgewicht unter Gasmolekülen. In Sitzungsberichte der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematische-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, Bd. 66, Dritte Heft, Zweite Abteilung, pp. 275-370. Vienna: Gerold, 1872. Octavo, original yellow printed wrappers; largely unopened; custom half-leather box. $3600.

First edition, first printing in original wrappers of Boltzmann’s most important paper, his explanation of the phenomenon of irreversibility in nature.

"Despite the variety and sheer quantity of [his] work, there is no difficulty in identifying Boltzmann’s most important contribution to physics: it is surely his explanation of the irreversibility of natural processes, the irreversibility expressed in the second law of thermodynamics. It was Boltzmann who showed how one could understand macroscopic irreversibility by applying statistics to a gas composed of a vast number of molecules, even though the individual molecular motions are described by the reversible laws of mechanics. This demonstration – that thermodynamic irreversibility is, in Erwin Schrödinger’s words, 'the pure embodiment of the statistical law itself,' and that 'events move in the direction in which they are most likely to move' – is one of the greatest achievements of nineteenth century science” (Klein, The Development of Boltzmann’s Statistical Ideas). Provenance: ink stamp on front wrapper of the Vienna Academy of Sciences, the publisher of the journal. Tear to upper wrapper and first leaf (not affecting text); very light wear and minor soiling to edges of wrappers. Rare, particularly in original wrappers. 

 

 

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