Ian Jauslin
2020
We study a mechanical system that was considered by Boltzmann in 1868 in the context of the derivation of the canonical and microcanonical ensembles. This system was introduced as an example of ergodic dynamics, which was central to Boltzmann's derivation. It consists of a single particle in two dimensions, which is subjected to a gravitational attraction to a fixed center. In addition, an infinite plane is fixed at some finite distance from the center, which acts as a hard wall on which the particle collides elastically. Finally, an extra centrifugal force is added. We will show that, in the absence of this extra centrifugal force, there are two independent integrals of motion. Therefore the extra centrifugal force is necessary for Boltzmann's claim of ergodicity to hold.
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