Article ID: CBB454319992

The divergent histories of Bose-Einstein statistics and the forgotten achievements of Władysław Natanson (1864–1937) (2019)


This article investigates the forgotten achievements of Władysław Natanson (1864–1937) related to the creation of Bose-Einstein statistics. The introductory part of the article presents considerations regarding the methodology of history and the history of exact sciences, and then the divergent research perspectives that can be taken in the description of the history of Bose-Einstein statistics, as well as the author’s integrated approach to this issue, which eliminates the disadvantages of these divergent views. This integrated approach is then used to describe the achievements of Władysław Natanson related to the creation of Bose-Einstein statistics. These achievements are presented against the background and in the context of discussions which – relatively sporadically – took place among various groups of researchers: historians and philosophers of science, physicists, sociologists of scientific knowledge in the 20th and 21st centuries. These discussions have now been reordered here. They are followed by a presentation of the complete list of Natanson’s publications regarding the subject. Also shown is his strategy to quote reliably the bibliography with regard to the explanation of the distribution of blackbody radiation and related issues. Additionally, a list of scientists who knew Natanson’s publications has been supplemented in the article and the precursorship of Natanson’s achievements is explained. This is followed by a rebuttal of many erroneous or simplified statements about him and his achievements. The already well-known terminological conventions have been recalled: “Bose statistics” and “Bose-Einstein statistics”, as well as recently introduced: “Planck-Bose statistics” (1984), “Natanson’s statistics” (1997)”, “Natanson-Bose-Einstein statistics” (2005), “Planck-Natanson-Bose-Einstein statistics” (2011), and “Natanson statistics” (2013). New terminological conventions have been introduced: “Boltzmann-Planck-Natanson statistics” and “Boltzmann-Planck-Natanson-Bose-Einstein statistics”. A side effect of this research is a discovery that Robert K. Merton – the author of the label ‘Matthew effect’ – chose the name of the effect using erroneous premises and the effect should therefore be named after its actual discoverer. The article is accompanied by four appendixes: the first presents reflections on the methodology of historiography and historiography of exact sciences, the second – a commentary on the use of the terms: “Bose statistics”, “Bose-Einstein statistics”, “Einstein-Bose statistics” and “Planck-Bose statistics”, the third – a very important letter by Max Planck to  Władysław Natanson (of 25 January 1913), and the fourth – the excerpts of two letters from Sommerfeld to Rubinowicz (of 1 October 1919 and 1 November 1919).

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Authors & Contributors
Nagasawa, Nobukata
Spałek, Józef
Peter Lukan
Rogers, David M.
Tavel, Morton
Stone, A. Douglas
Studia Historiae Scientiarum
Substantia: An International Journal of the History of Chemistry
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Physics in Perspective
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
History of the Human Sciences
Uitgeverij Balans
World Scientific
Rutgers University Press
Princeton University Press
Harvard University Press
C. H. Beck
Quantum mechanics
Statistical mechanics
Philosophy of science
Einstein, Albert
Natanson, Wladyslaw
Poincaré, Jules Henri
Planck, Max
Maxwell, James Clerk
Lorentz, Hendrik Antoon
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century
21st century
20th century, late
19th century
18th century
United States
Latin America

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