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Boltzmann's H-theorem, its Discontents, and the Birth of Statistical Mechanics

Abstract:

A comparison is made of the traditional Loschmidt (reversibility) and Zermelo (recurrence) objections to Boltzmann's H-theorem, and its simplified variant in the Ehrenfests’ 1912 wind-tree model. The little-cited 1896 (measure-theoretic) objection of Zermelo (similar to an 1889 argument due to Poincaré) is also analysed. Significant differences between the objections are highlighted, and several old and modern misconceptions concerning both them and the H-theorem are clarifi...

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Publication status:
Published
Peer review status:
Peer reviewed

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Publisher copy:
10.1016/j.shpsb.2009.03.003

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Institution:
University of Oxford
Department:
Oxford, HUM, Philosophy, Philosophy Postholders
Role:
Author
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Institution:
University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
Department:
Department of Philosophy
Role:
Author
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Institution:
Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Department:
Department of History and Foundations of Science
Role:
Author
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Funding agency for:
Brown, HR
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Funding agency for:
Uffink, J
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Publisher:
Elsevier Publisher's website
Journal:
Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics Journal website
Volume:
40
Issue:
2
Pages:
174–191
Publication date:
2009-05-05
DOI:
EISSN:
1879-2502
ISSN:
1355-2198
URN:
uuid:3839de9b-4ddc-4a60-8907-b32d4b3a7305
Source identifiers:
145588
Local pid:
pubs:145588

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