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Reading unfortunate Planck

Zhigang Suo's picture

Planck submitted his doctoral dissertation in 1879, at the age of 21. According to Planck’s autobiography, his dissertation elaborated on Clausius's entropy and its role in distinguishing reversible and irreversible processes. His dissertation failed to interest his professors, Helmholtz and Kirchhoff among them. Planck subsequently, as a young academic, applied the principle of the increase of entropy to analyze phases and ideal-gas mixtures.

"Unfortunately," he wrote in his autobiography, "as I was to learn only subsequently, the very same theorems had been obtained before me, in fact partly in an even more universal form, by the great American theoretical physicist Josiah Willard Gibbs, so that in this particular field no recognition was to be mine." Clausius named entropy in 1865, and Gibbs published his 300-page paper in 1878. Picture the young Planck struggling in the field of two giants.

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Dibakar Datta's picture

pdf copy of this historical book - 

 Treatise on Thermodynamics  


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