entropy

Ludwig Boltzmann and Statistical Mechanics

Ludwig Boltzmann and Statistical Mechanics

On February 20, 1844, Austrian physicist and philosopher Ludwig Boltzmann was born. His greatest achievement was in the development of statistical mechanics, which explains and predicts how the properties of atoms determine the physical properties of matter. “Who sees the future? Let us have free scope for all directions of research; away with dogmatism, either atomistic or anti-atomistic!” — Ludwig Boltzmann, “Lectures on Gas Theory”, translated by Stephen George Brush (1971), p.…
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Claude Shannon – the Father of Information Theory

Claude Shannon – the Father of Information Theory

On April 30, 1916, American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer Claude Elwood Shannon was born, the “father of information theory“, whose groundbreaking work ushered in the Digital Revolution. Of course Shannon is famous for having founded information theory with one landmark paper published in 1948. But he is also credited with founding both digital computer and digital circuit design theory in 1937, when, as a 21-year-old master’s student at MIT, he wrote a thesis…
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William Francis Giauque and the Absolute Zero

William Francis Giauque and the Absolute Zero

On May 12, 1895, American chemist and Nobel laureate William Francis Giauque was born. Giauque received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1949 for his “achievements in the field of chemical thermodynamics and especially his work on the behavior of matter at very low temperatures and his closely allied studies of entropy.” William Francis Giauque attended the Niagara Falls Collegiate Institute and after graduating he decided to pursue a career working for…
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Rolf Landauer and the Landauer Principle

On February 4, 1927, German-American physicist Rolf William Landauer was born. Landauer made important contributions in diverse areas of the thermodynamics of information processing, condensed matter physics, and the conductivity of disordered media. He is probably best known for the formulation of the eponymous Landauer Principle concerning the energy used during a computer‘s operation. “We shall call a device logically irreversible if the output of a device does not uniquely define the…
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Macquorn Rankine and the Laws of Thermodynamics

Macquorn Rankine and the Laws of Thermodynamics

On July 5, 1820, Scottish mechanical engineer William John Macquorn Rankine was born. He was a founding contributor, with Rudolf Clausius and William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), to the science of thermodynamics, particularly focusing on the first of the three thermodynamic laws. “Discrepancy between theory and practice, which in sound physical and mechanical science is a delusion, has a real existence in the minds of men; and that fallacy, through rejected by their…
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