Lawrence M. Krauss
Professor of Physics, Case Western Reserve University, author of "The Physics of Star Trek"
Less than a century ago the physical reality of atoms was not universally accepted by most scientists. David Lindley skillfully takes the reader back to that era and paints a vivid picture of one of the first physicists to realize the profound implications for all of physics if atoms actually existed. Ludwig Boltzmann seemed to pay for this realization with his own happiness. In Lindley's hands this poignant story reveals the transition between classical and modern physics at the turn of the last century.From the Publisher:
In the tradition of LONGITUDE, BOLTZMANN'S ATOM is the dramatic true story of the fascinating characters behind the greatest turning point in modern science. In 1900 the existence of the atom was a matter of great scientific debate, but by 1905, the atom was an accepted fact and the work of Albert Einstein, Max Planck and Marie Curie launched the atomic century. At the centre of this dramatic story, told against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century Vienna, is Ludwig Boltzmann, the forgotten genius who set the atomic revolution in motion. Boltzmann, an Austrian physicist, was an unabashed believer in the atomic hypothesis. The most visionary physicist of his age, he explained how the properties of matter arise from the movement of their smallest parts. But during his lifetime, Boltzmann's enthusiasm and progress were constantly thwarted by his nemesis, Ernst Mach. Mach, a respected scientist, didn't see the point of explaining what could not be seen. He developed a philosophy to bolster his conviction that science ought to stick to what it can measure directly and ensnared Boltzmann in an all-consuming philosophical debate on the subject. Though he had almost single-handedly invented twentieth-century theoretical physics, Boltzmann died a broken man, unaware that his vision would eventually lead to the greatest chain of scientific dscoveries ever made. In BOLTZMANN'S ATOM David Lindley combines expert storytelling with his deep understanding of the subject to shed light on an enthalling period of ferment and discovery.
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