Insuperable difficulties: Einstein's statistical road to molecular physics

Jos Uffink

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16 Scopus citations


In this essay I analyze Einstein's statistical papers from 1902 to 1904. In these papers, Einstein developed the foundations of a theoretical program that he applied to concrete problems in 1905 and in subsequent years. It combined skepticism about classical mechanics, a firm belief in molecules, and absolute confidence in statistical principles. However, Einstein's dissertation does not follow his statistical program. I conjecture that Einstein avoided his own theoretical ideas to win the approval of his Ph.D. advisor, Alfred Kleiner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-70
Number of pages35
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Issue number1 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Boltzmann
  • Einstein
  • Entropy
  • Kleiner
  • Molecules
  • Statistical physics


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