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Thomson

lord, kelvin, glasgow, royal, published, mathematical and theory

THOMSON, William, 1ST LORD KELVIN, British mathematician and physicist: b. Belfast, 26 June 1824; d. Glasgow, Scotland, 17 Dec. 1907. He was graduated from Cambridge in 1845, and in 1841 published a paper 'On the Uniform Motion of Heat in Homogeneous Solid Bodies, and in Connection with the Mathematical Theory of Electricity,' contrib uted to the Cambridge Mathematical Journal. In 1845 he became first editor of the Cam bridge and Dublin Mathematical Journal, a post which he held for seven years. He was appointed professor of natural philosophy in the University of Glasgow in 1846, and oc cupied this position for 53 years, till his resigna tion in 1899. His jubilee as a professor was celebrated in 1896 by many brilliant university functions and distinguished men of science came from many countries to do him honor. Lord Kelvin's contributions to physical science and its applications are very numerous. In all the domains of dynamics, sound, light, heat, magnetism and electricity there are achieve ments to his credit. The form in which the mariner's compass is now generally employed was patented by him in 1876, and the siphon recorder used in connection with almost all submarine cables was introduced by him in 1867. His extremely delicate mirror galvanom eter was also originally invented for the pur poses of submarine telegraphy, and in this con nection his automatic curb sender is also worthy of notice. His quadrant and absolute electrom eters are well known to the student of electrostatics, and his portable electrometer and water-dropping apparatus are of great use in practical meteorology. He published important papers on the theory of magnetism, and the theory of electric images with the associated method of electric inversions is due to him. Lord Kelvin was the first to direct the atten tion of .scientific men to Sadi Carnot's pioneer work in thermodynamics, and it is mainly to his researches and those of Rankine and Clausius that we owe the present advanced condition of that science. The absolute scale of tempera ture based on the second law of thermo dynamics was first proposed by Lord Kelvin. In the building up of the great modern doc trine of the conservation of energy Lord Kelvin took an important part, and the portion of that doctrine known as the dissipation of energy is almost entirely due to him. He also pro

pounded a modified atomic theory in which the atoms are conceived as vortices, and he threw much light on such questions as the age of the earth, cosmic evolutions and geological time. Lord Kelvin, then William Thomson, was associated as electrician with the company which undertook the laying of an Atlantic cable in 1857, and was largely responsible for the suc cess which ultimately crowned this pioneer effort of submarine telegraphy in 1866. He might, indeed, be called the first electrical en gineer. He was knighted in 1866, and in 1892 was raised to the peerage as Baron Kelvin of Netherall, Largs, Ayrshire. He was president of the Royal Society from 1890 to 1895, and was awarded the Copley and Royal medals. In 1871 he presided over the meetings of the British Association at Edinburgh. He was Rede lecturer at Cambridge in 1866 and was many times elected president of the Royal So ciety of Edinburgh. He was awarded the Prix Poncelet by the Institute of France in 1874, and the Helmholtz medal by Germany in 1892. He received so many honors that there is not space to enumerate them. Perhaps the most notable was the jubilee celebration of his pro fessorship at Glasgow University in 1896. The gathering was attended by 2,500 distinguished guests; the ceremonies and jubilation lasted three days. The Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order was conferred on him. The city officials joined in the event, cable com panies all over the world sent congratulations and a message was sent from the university half around the world, via Newfoundland, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Washing ton and back to London and Glasgow, being received by Lord Kevlin in seven and one-half minutes. Lord Kelvin's most important pub lished work is the well-known 'Treatise on Natural Philosophy' (Part I, 1867; new ed., 1879), written with Professor Tait. An abridged edition has also been published. His other works are 'Papers on Electrostatics and Magnetism' (1873) ; 'Mathematical and Physi cal Papers' (1882, 1884, 1890) ; 'Popular Lec tures and Addresses,' and articles in the 9th edition of the 'Encyclopmdia Britannica,' some of which have been also published separately. He visited the United States in 1884, in 1892 and again in 1902. Consult his 'Life' by An drew Gray (1908), and by Thompson, S. P., (1910).