Josef Stefan was a professor of physics at the University of Vienna between 1863 and 1893. During his time in Vienna he was a fruitful researcher in many scientific fields, but he is best known for his work in heat transfer. He was a gifted experimentalist and theoretician who made contributions to conduction, convection and radiation heat transfer. Stefan was the first to accurately measure the thermal conductivity of gases, using a device he invented called the diathermometer. He also determined the diffusion of two gases into each other, a process now known as Maxwell-Stefan diffusion. His work provided experimental verification of the newly formulated kinetic theory of gases published by the great Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell. Stefan also experimentally studied the motion of gases induced by evaporation along a liquid surface, a phenomenon known as Stefan flow. In addition, Stefan received data from various expeditions on ice formation in the arctic seas. From that solid/liquid phase change data, he formulated solutions to the moving boundary problem, now called the Stefan problem. The work for which he is most famous is the T4 radiation law which he deduced from the experimental work of a number of investigators. However, his theory was not widely accepted until his former student, Ludwig Boltzmann, derived the same relation from first principles. In their honor, the T4 radiation equation is called the Stefan-Boltzmann law. Despite his varied contributions, little is known about Stefan the man. This paper gives some details on his life and describes the seminal work he performed in broad areas of heat transfer.

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