Posts Tagged ‘J W Gibbs’

How Muriel Rukeyser became my favourite poet this morning!

March 27, 2008

I read Sean’s post at Cosmic Variance:

So I was poking around looking at biographies of some of the founding names of thermodynamics and kinetic theory — Boltzmann of course was an interesting character, but there are a lot of good stories out there. The American physicist Josiah Willard Gibbs obviously was a major player — among other things, he introduced the concept of the statistical ensemble, the primary tool by which we nowadays think of thermodynamic systems.

One of the notable biographies of Gibbs, it turns out, is by none other than Muriel Rukeyser. That’s a name that should be familiar to long-time blog readers, as she was the author of the delightful poem The Conjugation of the Paramecium. Any poet who spends her free time writing biographies of the titans of statistical mechanics is my kind of poet.

Now, if there is a poet who writes a biography of Gibbs, she is my kind of poet too. There is more biographical information about  Rukeyser in Sean’s post (and an excerpt from a poem of hers too). Have fun!

Some mathematical links!

February 23, 2008

The March issue of American Mathematical Monthly is full of wonderful reading material:

Take a look!

Some more thermodynamics

October 8, 2007

Didn’t I tell you about the bit of thermodynamics in every researcher’s life? Rajeev, at his Almanack, writes about the geometry of thermodynamics, the close analogy between thermodynamics and geometric optics, and geometrisation of thermodynamics as the first step towards quantum thermodynamics. What is more, the hero of the piece is none other than Gibbs (with S Chandrashekhar also being part of the cast):

… the main problem I had was to find out information about good old fashioned classical thermodynamics. Except for some treatments by V. I. Arnold and Chnadrashekhar, I had to go all the way back to the literature of almost a hundred years to find a sophisticated discussion on the subject. J. W. Gibbs is the main hero of the story, his ideas were developed by Pfaff and Caratheodory into a beautiful if under-appreciated subject.

Take a look!