Ludwig Boltzmann

Ludwig Boltzmann

Austrian physicist, one of the founders of statistical physics and physical kinetics
Date of Birth: 20.02.1844
Country: Austria

  1. Biography of Ludwig Boltzmann
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Academic Career
  4. Contributions
  5. Legacy

Biography of Ludwig Boltzmann

Ludwig Boltzmann (February 20, 1844 - September 5, 1906) was an Austrian physicist and one of the founders of statistical physics and physical kinetics. He played a crucial role in applying statistical methods to the kinetic theory of ideal gases, deriving the fundamental kinetic equation for gases which became the basis of physical kinetics.

Early Life and Education

Boltzmann was born on February 20, 1844, in Vienna, Austria. He graduated from the University of Vienna in 1866. A year later, he became a private lecturer at the same university.

Academic Career

Boltzmann served as a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Graz from 1869 to 1873, and then as a professor of mathematics at the University of Vienna from 1873 to 1876. He later became a professor of experimental physics at the University of Graz from 1876 to 1889. Boltzmann held several academic positions throughout his career, including professorships at the University of Munich (1889-1894), the University of Vienna (1894-1900), Leipzig University (1900-1902), and back again at the University of Vienna.


Boltzmann's scientific interests covered almost all areas of physics, as well as several areas of mathematics. He authored works on mathematics, mechanics, hydrodynamics, the theory of elasticity, electromagnetic field theory, optics, thermodynamics, and the kinetic theory of gases. However, his most significant contributions were in the field of kinetic theory of gases and the statistical foundation of thermodynamics.

He derived the fundamental kinetic equation for gases by applying statistical methods to the kinetic theory of ideal gases. His important achievement was the study of irreversible processes and the statistical interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics.

Boltzmann was a devoted follower of Maxwell's electromagnetic theory. He conducted the first experimental work to verify the validity of Maxwell's theory of electromagnetic fields. He measured the dielectric permeability of gases and solids and established its connection with the refractive index. Boltzmann presented his views on Maxwell's theory in his lectures on the "Maxwellian Theory of Electricity and Light" (1891-1893).

In 1884, Boltzmann theoretically derived the law of black body radiation, which had been experimentally established by Josef Stefan. This work played a significant role in the development of modern radiation theory.


Boltzmann's work on molecular-atomic theory faced strong opposition from some of his contemporaries, and he had to engage in intense intellectual battles to defend the existence of this theory. The rejection of his work may have played a role in his tragic end. Struggling with illness and depression, Boltzmann took his own life.

Despite the challenges he faced during his lifetime, Ludwig Boltzmann's contributions to statistical physics, physical kinetics, and the foundations of thermodynamics have had a lasting impact on the field of physics. His ideas and theories continue to be studied and expanded upon to this day.