Ludwig Boltzmann‘s Early Career
Ludwig Boltzmann (1844–1906) was born in Vienna and attended the University of Vienna, where he received his doctorate in 1867. Boltzmann was a restless spirit, changing (by choice) from one academic position to another, a total of seven times in his almost forty-year career.
From the early 1870s on, Boltzmann was a scientific superstar and very much in demand. To get Boltzmann to accept a professorship of theoretical physics at the University of Vienna in 1894, the Austrian minister of culture had to offer him the highest salary then paid to any Austrian university professor. Boltzmann had already been a professor at the university of Vienna twice before, once from 1867–1869 as an assistant professor, and a second time from 1873–1876 as a professor of mathematics. Nonetheless, in 1900 he left for a third time.
The constant k in Boltzmann’s equation for entropy (S = k ln W) is called Boltzmann’s constant, but it was Planck who actually introduced it.
Our understanding of the connection between entropy and the microscopic world of atoms is mostly due to the work of James Clerk Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann.
Being able to read Maxwell’s work on electromagnetic theory motivated Boltzmann to learn English.
A long time proponent of atoms, Boltzmann died unaware of Einstein’s landmark 1905 paper, which proved their existence.