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Ludwig Boltzmann

AKA Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann

Born: 20-Feb-1844
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: 5-Sep-1906
Location of death: Bay of Duino, Italy
Cause of death: Suicide
Remains: Buried, Zentralfriedhof, Vienna, Austria

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: Austria
Executive summary: Atoms and molecules

Ludwig Boltzmann helped develop statistical mechanics, working independently from J. Willard Gibbs, wherein probability is used to describe the relationship between the properties of atoms and the properties of matter. In 1871, working independently from James Clerk Maxwell, he showed that a molecule's average energy of motion is the same in each direction (the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution law). Boltzmann met his future wife, Henriette von Aigentler, when she was denied entry to mathematics and physics classes at Graz, and he helped her overturn that ruling.

In a time when atomism was a new idea and widely rejected by his contemporaries, he argued strongly that only the theory of atomic structure could explain the physical world and his own work. This occasionally led to Boltzmann being cast as a kook, and he suffered from intermittent bouts of depression. He had recurring clashes with academic colleagues, and attempted suicide at least twice, succeeding when he hung himself while vacationing near Trieste. Within a few years of his death, his interpretation of the atomic world was shown to be substantially correct. Boltzmann's work formed the basis for much of modern quantum physics, and his writings eventually inspired another noted Austrian physicist, Erwin Schrödinger.

Father: Ludwig Georg Boltzmann (tax collector, d. 1859)
Mother: Katharina Pauernfeind
Wife: Henriette von Aigentler (m. 17-Jul-1876, three daughters, two sons)

    University: PhD, University of Vienna (1866)
    Teacher: Physics, University of Vienna (1867-69)
    Professor: Mathematics, University of Graz (1868-69)
    Professor: Theoretical Physics, University of Heidelberg (1869-71)
    Professor: Physics, University of Berlin (1871-73)
    Professor: Mathematics, University of Vienna (1873-76)
    Professor: Experimental Physics, University of Graz (1876-90)
    Administrator: President, University of Graz (1887-90)
    Professor: Theoretical Physics, University of Munich (1890-94)
    Professor: Theoretical Physics, University of Vienna (1894-1900)
    Professor: Physics, University of Leipzig (1900-02)
    Professor: Theoretical Physics, University of Vienna (1902-06)

    Austian Imperial Academy of Sciences
    Suicide Attempt 1904, 1906
    Austrian Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Obesity, Depression, Asthma

Author of books:
Theoretical Physics and Philosophical Problems (1974, posthumous, essays)

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