Paul Ehrenfest

Dutch physicist

Paul Ehrenfest (January 18, 1880September 25, 1933) was an Austrian physicist and mathematician, who obtained Dutch citizenship on March 24, 1922. He made major contributions to the field of statistical mechanics and its relations with quantum mechanics, including the theory of phase transition and the Ehrenfest theorem.

Paul Ehrenfest.jpg


  • Einstein, my upset stomach hates your theory — it almost hates you yourself ! How am I to provide for my students ? What am I to answer to the philosophers ?


  • You will get your difficulties with the point electron.
    • as quoted by Hendrik Casimir in an interview by Thomas Kuhn, Léon Rosenfeld, Aage Bohr and Erik Ruedinger at the Institute for Theoretical Physics, Copenhagen, 5 and 6 July, 1963.

Quotes about EhrenfestEdit

  • The way he taught statistical mechanics and electromagnetic theory, you got the feeling of a growing science that emerged out of conflict and debate. It was alive, like his lectures, which were full of personal references to men like Boltzmann, Klein, Ritz, Abraham, and Einstein. He told us at the beginning that we should teach ourselves vector analysis in a fortnight—no babying. Ehrenfest's students all acknowledge how much his method of exposition has influenced their own teaching.

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