Zentralfriedhof, Vienna, Austria

gkat_002.pdf 48° 8 ′ 58 ″ N, 16° 26 ′ 28 ″ E


A Scientist Among the Composers

If you need an excuse to visit the beautiful Austrian capital, then use the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) as your reason. Although the cemetery may not be one of the most famous attractions in Austria, it is the final resting place of many celebrated Austrians (and others), including Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, four Strausses, and a host of other artists and politicians. But the grave that’s waiting for scientific visitors is the one with a fundamental equation of thermodynamics written upon it.

That grave belongs to Ludwig Boltzmann, the Austrian physicist who created statistical mechanics (which helps to explain how the fundamental properties of atoms, such as mass or charge, determine the properties of matter) and showed that the laws of mechanics at an atomic level could explain the second law of thermodynamics (roughly that heat cannot flow from a cool body to a hotter body) via Boltzmann’s Equation (see Equation 2-1).


Equation 2-1. Boltzmann’s Equation

Boltzmann lived during the 19th century (he died just after ...

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