Maxwell and the normal distribution: A colored story of probability, independence, and tendency toward equilibrium

@article{Gyenis2017MaxwellAT,
title={Maxwell and the normal distribution: A colored story of probability, independence, and tendency toward equilibrium},
author={Bal'azs Gyenis},
journal={Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics},
year={2017},
volume={57},
pages={53-65}
}

Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics

We investigate Maxwell's attempt to justify the mathematical assumptions behind his 1860 Proposition IV according to which the velocity components of colliding particles follow the normal distribution. Contrary to the commonly held view we find that his molecular collision model plays a crucial role in reaching this conclusion, and that his model assumptions also permit inference to equalization of mean kinetic energies (temperatures), which is what he intended to prove in his discredited and… CONTINUE READING