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Ten greatest econophysicists of all time

posted on 12 August 2011

The following is a “quickly-made” tentative listing of the 10 greatest econophysicists of all time:

 1. Léon Winiarski (1894) – the most fruitful student of the Lausanne school of economics.; taught a class called "social mechanics", using Clausius and Lagrange, at the University of Geneva for at least six years (1894-1900), considering people as attracting and repelling points, theorizing on such advanced topics as morality explained in terms of reversible (equation shown) and irreversible cycles, aesthetic energy, sexual energy, family structure, etc., as described in his Essay on Social Mechanics (1898) and course outline "The Teaching of Pure Political Economics and Social Mechanics in Switzerland" (1900); can be considered as the first "true" human thermodynamicist.

2. Thomas Hobbes – his Leviathan draws analogies between laws of mechanics and features of society; Hobbes is typically the first person cited in histories on econophysics.

3. Dimitris Keranis (2005) - argues that human purposeful action can be quantified formulaically, using the Gibbs function (G = H - TS), arguing that energy and entropy are the two opposing forces involved in nature’s tendency to organize itself through the production of work and the associated acts that are responsible for the flow of energy in social systems, of which economic activity is central aspect and in which intellectual actions, such as speech, scientific productions, poetry, and literary, etc., translate into “value flows” in the social systems, reflecting the tendency of systems toward equilibrium, through the dispersal of wealth, income redistribution, and decentralization of power, etc.; of which he argues, the flow of economic acts and value acts are captured in Xenophon Zolotas’ 1981 economic and social welfare growth function.

4. Emanuele Sella (1910) - His The Life of Wealth, outlined a mechanical investigation of economic life, based on the work of Rudolf Clausius, in which he uses entropy to explain the relation between the process of hereditary transmission and the mechanism of production, and introduces concepts such as economic temperature and economic entropy.

5. Julius Davidson (1919) – in his “One of the Physical Foundations of Economics” uses a mixture of Gibbs’ 1901 Elementary Principles of Statistical Mechanics, Le Chatelier’s principle, and the law of mass action to argue that human interactions are analogous to equilibrium-adjusting chemical reactions and that in particular the law of diminishing returns is based on chemistry and physics.

6. Frederick Soddy (1911) - In Matter and Energy, he first began to outline his views on the relation between energy and wealth and how thermodynamics governs society, e.g. the rise and fall of political systems, freedom vs. bondage, wealth vs. poverty, movements of commerce, and general welfare; into the 1920s, he devoted a significant portion of his career to the thermodynamic explication of the standard economic model; defined Cartesian economics (1921); his most-cited book is the 1926 Virtual Wealth and Debt, in which he attempts to explain the difference between wealth and debt, thermodynamically.

7. Thomas Wallace (2009) - his book Wealth, Energy, and Human Values, applies the basics of physical chemistry and chemical thermodynamics, in particular the Gibbs equation (adjacent), to the modeling of the rise and fall of civilizations, in what he considers a ‘mechanistic-thermodynamic paradigm’; contains a good appendix on "The Fundamentals of Thermodynamics Applied to Socioeconomics", which outlines a decent reaction coordinate depicted initial state / final state view of mechanism-based society reaction processes.

8. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1966) – in the late 1960s, published an introductory essay on the relation between entropy and economics; his highly-cited 1971 book The Entropy Law and the Economic Process, situated a material entropy theory which argued that economic systems are governed by the second law, albeit he misinterpreted bound energy and free energy, to mean that, in economic terms, available energy stored in fossil fuels tends to be used up over time and converted into an unusable form of waste heat or energy.

9. Philip Mirowski (1984) - Beginning with his “Physics and the Marginalist Revolution”, in which he address the works of thinkers such as Leon Walras, Francis Edgeworth, Vilfredo Pareto, etc., and books to follow, i.e. Against Mechanism: How to Protect Economics from Science (1988), More Heat than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature’s Economics (1989), etc., he devotes considerable effort to addressing the history of economic thought, with specific focus on a critique of the incorporation of physics theories (many from thermodynamics), often in the form of metaphors, analogies, and isomorphisms, into economic theory, giving what seems to be an objectionable view along the way.

10. Philip Ball – has spent nearly a decade in recent years on papers, talks, and books on the promotion of on ‘physics of society’; his 2004 Critical Mass is a linchpin to the subject of econophysics.

Feel free to comment on this list; such as in regards to whom you think is one of the greatest econophysicists of all time (or to post your own top ten list).


I deeply appreciate and proud to them all. they are the persons who give the valuable application of physics. physics is no abstract subject anymore, physics also deals with our daily life. nice reference

I'm sorry, but there are no econophysicists in that list.

Right, there are no econophysicists in that list

Agree, there are no econophysicists in that list

I love it when folks come together and share views. Great website, keep it up!

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