(June 26, 1824 – December 17, 1907)

William Thomson Kelvin was an influential mathematical physicist who served as University of Glasgow’s professor for more than 50 years. His extensive research pertained to heat, thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism and geology. He is most famous today for the absolute temperature scale, whose S.I. unit is named in his honor. Although the “absolute zero” temperature limit was known long before Kelvin, it was him who determined its value to be -273.15°C. Kelvin also collaborated with many of his contemporaries, and received praise for contributions which culminated in the establishment of the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Most of these contributions focused on advancing Nicolas Carnot’s works: alongside integrating those of Rudolf Clausius, Benoît Clapeyron and James Joule. Following his field concept investigations, Kelvin inferred that electromagnetic effects are transmitted as linear and rotational strains in elastic solid, which produce the “vortex atoms” that generated electromagnetic fields. And based on earth’s cooling rate, he deduced that this planet’s age makes it too young to be in line with Charles Darwin’s Evolution Theory and Charles Lyell’s Theory of Gradual Geological Alterations. Other works attributed to him involved: siphon recorder, trans-Atlantic telegraph, mirror galvanometer and magnetoresistance. He was also the first person who used the term “chirality”; as well as “kinetic energy”, in the contexts we know them today. Among the numerous theorems and concepts named after him are: the Kelvin’s Circulation Theorem, the Kelvin-Stokes Theorem, the Kelvin-Helmholtz Mechanism, the Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability, the Joule-Thomson Effect, the Kelvin’s Equation, and the Kelvin’s Wave.


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