In equations, Ostwald happiness formula, or “happiness equation”, is a 1905 equation developed by German physical chemist Wilhelm Ostwald that formulates "happiness" in terms of useful work and energy dissipated in resistance (George Fleck, 1993), and or the energies directed by the will and the energy used up in experiences opposing the will (Ferenc Szabadvary, 1993), or something to this effect.

The formula, supposedly, was or became part of Ostwald’s thermodynamic imperative (1912)

In 1905, German physical chemist Wilhelm Ostwald published his “A Theory of Happiness”, wherein he penned a happiness equation based on his energetics theories. [1] Ostwald's happiness equation reads as follows: [2]

G = k(A-W)(A+W) \,

where, according to Nobel Prize biographer George Fleck, G is Gluck (happiness), A is Arbeit (work or ‘energy expended in doing useful work’), W is Widerstand (energy dissipated in overcoming resistance), and k supposedly some type of proportionality constant. This formula can be reduced to the following: [3]

G = k(E^2-W^2) \,

where, according to Hungarian analytical chemistry historian Ferenc Szabadvary, G is the amount of happiness, E is the sum of energies directed by the will, W is the energy used up for experiences opposing the will, i.e. the sum of the energies used for overcoming obstacles, while k is a factor for the energetical-physical transactions which is dependent on the individual.

Ostwald, in his circa 1925 Autobiography, devotes a chapter to his equation of happiness.

See also
Equation of love

1. Ostwald, Wilhelm. (1905). “A Theory of Happiness”, International Quarterly, 11:316-26.
2. Fleck, George. (1993). “1909 Nobel Laureate: Wilhelm Ostwald, 1853-1932”, in: Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, 1901-1992 (editor: Laylin James) (pgs. 61-66, esp. pg. 66). Chemical Heritage Foundation.
3. Szabadvary, Ferenc. (1993). History of Analytical Chemistry (pg. 355). CRC Press.

Further reading
● Szabadvary, Ferenc. (1965). “Wilhelm Ostwald’s Happiness Formula”, Journal of Chemical Education, 42(12):678.

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