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Ludwig Boltzmann – Energy, Entropy, Leadership by Gerhard Fasol (6th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium)

Ludwig Boltzmann as leader

(Gerhard Fasol, CEO of Eurotechnology Japan KK. Served as Associate Professor of Tokyo University, Lecturer at Cambridge University, and Manger of Hitachi Cambridge R&D Lab.)

Keynote presented at the 6th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium on February 20, 2014 at the Embassy of Austria in Tokyo.

Ludwig Boltzmann, the scientist

Ludwig Boltzmann’s greatest contribution to science is that he linked the macroscopic definition of Entropy which came from optimizing steam engines at the source of the first industrial revolution to the microscopic motion of atoms or molecules in gases, this achievement is summarized by the equation S = k log W, linking entropy S with the probability W. k is the Boltzmann constant, one of the most important constants in nature, linked directly to temperature in the SI system of physical units. This monumental work is maybe Boltzmann’s most important creation but by far not the only one. He discovered many laws, and created many mathematical tools, for example Boltzmann’s Equations, which are used today as tools for numerical simulations of gas flow for the construction of jet engines, airplanes, automobiles, in semiconductor physics, information technology and many other areas. Although independently discovered, Shannon’s theory of noise in communication networks, and Shannon’s entropy in IT is also directly related to Boltzmann’s entropy work.

Ludwig Boltzmann, the leader

Ludwig Boltzmann was not only a monumental scientist, but also an exceptional leader, teacher, educator and promoter of exceptional talent, and he promoted many women.

One of the women Ludwig Boltzmann promoted was Henriette von Aigentler, who was refused permission to unofficially audit lectures at Graz University. Ludwig Boltzmann advised and helped her to appeal this decision, in 1874, Henriette von Aigentler passed her exams as a high-school teacher, and on July 17, 1876, Ludwig Boltzmann married Henriette von Aigentler, my great-grand mother.

Another woman Ludwig Boltzmann promoted was his student Lise Meitner (Nov 1878 – Oct 27, 1968), who later was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, work for which Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize. Lise Meitner was also the second woman to earn a Doctorate degree in Physics from the University of Vienna. Element 109, Meitnerium, is named after Lise Meitner.

Nagaoka Hantaro, First President of the University of Osaka – Ludwig Boltzmann’s pupil

The first President of Osaka University (1931-1934), Nagaoka Hantaro (1865 – 1950) was Ludwig Boltzmann’s pupil around 1892 – 1893 at Muenchen University.

Ludwig Boltzmann, a leader of science

Ludwig Boltzmann was connected in intense discussions with all major scientists of his time, he travelled extensively including three trips to the USA in 1899, 1904 and 1905, about which he wrote the article “Die Reise eines deutschen Professors ins El Dorado”, published in the book “Populäre Schriften”.

Ludwig Boltzmann published his first scientific publication at the age of 21 years in 1865. He was appointed Full Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Graz in 1869 at the age of 25 years, later in 1887-1888 he was Rektor (President) of the University of Graz at the age of 43 years.

He spent periods of his professional work in Vienna, at Graz University (1869-1873 and 1876-1890), at Muenchen University (1890-1894). When working at Muenchen University, he discovered that neither he nor his family would not receive any pension from his employment at Muenchen University after an eventual retirement or in case he dies before retirement, and therefore decided to return to Vienna University in 1894, where he and his family were assured of an appropriate pension. During 1900-1902 he spent two years working in Leipzig, where he cooperated with the Nobel Prize winner Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald.

Ludwig Boltzmann did not shy away from forceful arguments to argue for his thoughts and conclusions, even if his conclusions were opposite to the views of established colleagues, or when he felt that philosophers intruded into the field of physics, i.e. used methods of philosophy to attempt solving questions which needed to be solved with physics measurements, e.g. to determine whether our space is curved or not. Later in his life he was therefore also appointed to a parallel Chair in Philosophy of Science, and Ludwig Boltzmann’s work in Philosophy of Science is also very fundamentally important.

I discovered the unpublished manuscripts of Boltzmann’s lectures on the Philosophy of Science, stimulated and encouraged by myself, and with painstaking work my mother transcribed these and other unpublished manuscripts, and prepared them for publication, to make these works finally accessible to the world, many years after Ludwig Boltzmann’s death.

Ludwig Boltzmann was a down to earth man. He rejected the offer of Nobility by His Majesty, The Emperor of Austria, i.e. the privilege to be named Ludwig von Boltzmann (or a higher title) instead of commoner Ludwig Boltzmann. Ludwig Boltzmann said: “if our common name was good enough for my parents and ancestors, it will be good enough for my children and grand children…”

Summary: understanding Ludwig Boltzmann.

Boltzmann’s thoughts and ideas are a big part of our understanding of the world and the universe.

His mathematical tools are used every day by today’s engineers, bankers, IT people, physicists, chemists… and even may contribute to solve the world’s energy problems.

Ludwig Boltzmann stood up for his ideas and conclusions and did not give in to authority. He rejected authority for authority’s sake, and strongly pushed his convictions forward.

What can we learn from Ludwig Boltzmann?

  • empower young people, recognize and support talent early.
  • exceptional talent is not linear but exponential.
  • move around the world. Connect. Interact.
  • empower women.
  • don’t accept authority for authority’s sake.
  • science/physics/nature need to be treated with the methods of physics/science.
  • no dogmas.
  • support entrepreneurs, Ludwig Boltzmann did.
Gerhard Fasol
Gerhard Fasol

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our future: hot, flat, and crowded… celebrating Ludwig Boltzmann’s 165th birthday

First Ludwig Boltzmann Forum Tokyo on February 20th, 2009

Speakers: Hisashi Kobayashi, Gerhard Fasol, Kazu Ishikawa, Kiyoshi Kurokawa

Ludwig Boltzmann was one of the most important physicists and philosophers: it is almost impossible for any engineer, chemist or physicist to do a day’s work without using Boltzmann’s tools and results every day. Ludwig Boltzmann is Gerhard Fasol‘s and Eurotechnology Japan KK’s founder’s great grandfather – and his excellence is our company’s guiding light.

Ludwig Boltzmann was born 165 years ago on February 20, 1844, and last Friday, February 20, 2009 we celebrated the first event of the Ludwig Boltzmann Forum by inviting several of Japan’s science and technology leaders with kind cooperation and hospitality by the Ambassador of Austria and the Austrian Embassy:

First speaker was Professor Hisashi Kobayashi, Founder of the IBM Tokyo Laboratory, former Dean of Engineering of Princeton University. He showed how Entropy and noise in communications is linked to Boltzmann’s generalized Entropy and the H-Theorem. Coming from Princeton, Hisashi also showed us elegantly how strongly Einstein’s work is linked to Boltzmann’s.

Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa, former Dean of Medicine of Tokai University, former President of Japan’s Science Council and Advisor to two Japanese Prime Ministers and now Professor at Japan’s new Political Science University, gave an intense and passionate speech about which changes are necessary to live in our future which will be hot (as in global warming), flat (as in global communications and internet) and crowded (due do population growth). Kiyoshi also made a passionate appeal to Japanese organisations (including the S&T leaders participating at our Symposium) to change, open up and compete globally.

Kazu Ishikawa of Exa Japan gave a fantastic demonstration how Boltzmann’s equations are used to simulate airflow for the construction of cars, airplanes, jet engines … Boltzmann’s equations replace the macroscopic Navier-Stokes equations as numerical wind tunnels. Boltzmann’s equations are particularly needed for the simulation of transients.

Finally, Gerhard Fasol, Ludwig Boltzmann’s Great-Grandson, gave two talks: one talk about Ludwig Boltzmann’s scientific achievements, his search for understanding the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics with mechanics, the effects of collisions and the generalization to non-equilibrium – leading the H-Theorem, and the generalization of Entropy and Boltzmann’s philosophical work. The second talk introduced the human side of Ludwig Boltzmann: his life and his passions.

Photo: Hisashi Kobayashi shows why Boltzmann’s work is important for telecommunications, and how Einstein’s work is linked to Boltzmann’s. Her Excellency, the Austrian Ambassador follows closely:

Hisashi Kobayashi at the Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium - the Ambassador of Austria listens
Hisashi Kobayashi at the Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium – the Ambassador of Austria listens

Photo: Hot, flat and crowded. In a passionate speech, former science and tech advisor of two Japanese Prime-Ministers, Kiyoshi Kurokawa talks about the future, and how to be prepared to compete:

Kiyoshi Kurokawa
Kiyoshi Kurokawa: Hot, flat and crowded

Photo: The Austrian Ambassador invited the participants of the Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium to the Austrian Residence:

Reception by the Ambassador of Austria
Reception by the Ambassador of Austria

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Ludwig Boltzmann 100 years

On 5 September 1906 Ludwig Boltzmann died in Duano, Italy

Ludwig Boltzmann: 20 February 1844 – 5 September 1906

Ludwig Boltzmann (20 February 1844 – 5 September 1906) is our company’s founder’s great grandfather – and one of our company’s great inspiration. We are working hard to continue his tradition of innovation and excellence and diligent work.

Ludwig Boltzmann died exactly 100 years ago today, on September 5, 1906.

On the 170th Anniversary day of Ludwig Boltzmann’s birth, on February 20, 2014, a ceremony was held at the “Ples” Building (Duino no. 76), the building in which Boltzmann passed away on September 5, 1906, to unveil a commemorative plate. See details of the ceremony here.

Ludwig Boltzmann worked in many different areas and found the first explanations for many phenomena. He did not just create one single invention, but he created very many.

Boltzmann is best known for his work in gas theory: using complex mathematical tools, many of which he had developed himself, Boltbmann linked the macroscopic “Entropy” of gases with the microscopic forces between atoms and molecules in gases. “Entropy” was initially just a useful macroscopic concept similar to temperature and pressure of a gas developed during the early days of industrialization in England to optimize steam engines. Boltzmann showed that Entropy is a much much deeper fundamental concept, and showed how Entropy is related to the collissions between atoms and molecules in a gas and that Entropy expresses the probability that a body is found in a certain state.

In Boltzmann’s days, it was not generally accepted that atoms and molecules exist. Actually, in Vienna in those days, in order to survive socially, Boltzmann had to use very careful words: he usually did not say directly that he is convinced that atoms and molecules exist: he said that they are just a useful concept, whether they exist or not.

Ludwig Boltzmann was the last great classical physicist. He knew of several unexplained puzzles: Brown’s motion, the discrete spectra of atoms, curvature of space, but he could not explain them with the classical methods he mastered. Today Boltzmann’s methods, the Boltzmann constant, the Boltzmann Equation and much of his work is used every day in telecoms, information technology, electronics, chemical industry and many other areas.

Read more about Ludwig Boltzmann…

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