5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An ambitious book. I learnt a lot.,
This review is from: Ludwig Boltzmann: The Man Who Trusted Atoms (Paperback)
This is an ambitious book, trying to present the life and scientific work of Ludwig Boltzmann to a lay audience. The author gives many fine insights into Boltzmann's life and times, and a picture emerges of a tortured genius, who committed suicide at the age of 62, not because his beloved atomic hypothesis was not accepted, but probably because of an underlying mental instability. I liked the chapters on the Boltzmann equation and his interpretation of entropy in terms of probabilities (the heart of the book), but the later chapter on Boltzmann's scientific philosophy I found really hard going and it could usefully have been omitted. In general there is a lack of continuity about the book, and the index has some important omissions. There are the usual howlers - the worst being on page 190, where the age of the universe is claimed to be of the order of 10^17 years (instead of seconds), making it wrong by a factor of over 31 million! But one learns a lot about general 19th century physics reading this book, and I liked the references to such diverse characters as Engels, Bruckner and Wittgenstein! Four stars (out of five).