Person: Stefan, Josef
Josef Stefan was an Austrian physicist, mathematician, and poet.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Josef showed his brilliance when at elementary school in Klagenfurt and he showed himself to have both the desire and ability to do well at the Gymnasium which was recommended by his teachers.
- Stefan entered the Gymnasium in Klagenfurt in 1846.
- On 13 March 1848, eleven days before Stefan's thirteenth birthday, a Revolution began in Austria.
- Stefan was at an impressionable age and the Revolution made him much more aware of the various ethnic groupings and his own Slovenian origins.
- Stefan entered the University of Vienna in 1853.
- The programme of research that Stefan embarked on was wide ranging across a number of different areas.
- Of course Maxwell was right about the difficulties but Stefan was one to rise to a challenge, especially when it came to devising experiments thought to be almost impossible.
- A new instrument would be needed to determine the thermal conductivity of air, reasoned Stefan, and he set about devising one which he called a diathermometer described in his paper Untersuchung über die Wärmeleitung in Gasen, Erste Abhandlung Ⓣ(Study on heat conduction in gases, First Treatise) (1872).
- Maxwell, and also Clausius who had also worked on the problem, had deduced that thermal conductivity should be independent of the pressure of the gas, and Stefan was able to verify this experimentally.
- Stefan showed empirically, in 1879, that total radiation from a blackbody is proportional to the fourth power of its absolute temperature.
- Boltzmann, who was one of Stefan's students, showed in 1884 that this Stefan-Boltzmann law could be demonstrated mathematically.
- After this work, Stefan looked at the problem of the polar ice caps.
- Stefan realised that this was a variant of the problem he had been studying.
- Other work by Stefan includes studies of surface tension and evaporation, during which he proposed what today is called 'Stefan's number' and 'Stefan's law'.
- The life which Stefan led was totally dedicated to science.
- Of course with such total dedication to his work, Stefan had little time for friends and had hardly any social life.
Born 24 March 1835, St Peter (near Klagenfurt), Austria. Died 7 January 1893, Vienna, Austria.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin Austria, Physics
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive