Famous Bipolar People


The famous physicist, Ludwig Eduard Boltzmann was an Austrian born on February 20, 1844 in Vienna. Boltzmann was known for his theory on atomic nature and also his contributions to statistical thermodynamics and mechanics. Boltzmann was also one of the youngest university professors in his time. He contributed to the development of the kinetic theory and the scientific study of flow of energy under transformation. Remarkable is his works were his famous Boltzmann’s equation and the Stefan-Boltzmann law. His work on aviation was however unknown to many.

Boltzmann started studies at home with a private tutor. He proceeded to High School in Linz. He furthered his education at Vienna University where he studied physics. He worked as assistant to one of his professors after obtaining his PhD. Boltzmann was appointed a Professor of Mathematical Physics at the age of 25. He worked for the University of Graz. During that period, he came in contact with Gustav Kirchhoff and another friend, who together with Boltzmann began their physics research and experiments. He was appointed the chairman of Experimental physics after some time in the university and also a member of the Imperial Austrian Academy of Sciences. He was subsequently appointed the president of the University of Graz. Boltzmann also spent some time researching into flight of objects. In a newspaper article, he appealed for funds to develop this field.


Boltzmann was great at teaching. His students were fond of him. He worked very hard to prove his theories, sometimes spending sleepless nights figuring out what could be wrong. Many of Boltzmann’s theories were rejected by other scientists. He spent 15 years trying to prove the atomic theory he came up with, but unfortunately, this theory was only accepted after his death.


Boltzmann was believed to have suffered bipolar disorder and known to have emotional swings. He buried himself in his work; he worked on his theories and experiments even when he was tired. He attempted suicide once, but was not successful. On a holiday with his wife and daughter, Boltzmann on his second attempt succeeded in killing himself. He was also hospitalized a number of times for depression. Suicide thoughts and attempts are one major characteristic exhibited by the manic depressive.


His first depression experience was attributed to the death of his mother. Boltzmann was fond of his mother and was devastated by her death. He would often sit for days without talking to anyone during that period. His role as the president of the University of Graz could also have caused his depression. The job was tedious and Boltzmann did not seem prepared for it. The death of his co-worker, Kirchhoff also had a psychological impact on him. His depression could also be attributed to his frustrated attempts to prove his theories. Boltzmann was also known to suffer from asthma as well as poor eyesight. The suffering imposed by these conditions could also be a source of his depression.

Boltzmann married Henriette von Aigntler, with whom he had three daughters and two sons. She stayed with him until his death.