(June 26, 1824 – December 17, 1907)

William Thomson Kelvin was a mathematical physicist who served as University of Glasgow’s professor for more than 50 years. His 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 before Kelvin, it was him that eventually determined its value of -273.15°C. Kelvin also collaborated with several contemporaries, and received praise for contributions which culminated in the establishment of both the first and the second laws of thermodynamics. Most of these contributions helped polish Nicolas Carnot’s inferences: alongside integrating those of Rudolf Clausius, Benoît Clapeyron and James Joule. Following his field concept investigations, Kelvin concluded that electromagnetic effects are transmitted as linear and rotational strains in elastic solid, which produce those “vortex atoms” responsible for generating electromagnetic fields. And based on earth’s cooling rate, he deduced that this planet’s age makes it too young to conform with Charles Darwin’s Evolution Theory and Charles Lyell’s Theory of Gradual Geological Alterations. Other works attributed to him involved: magnetoresistance, siphon recorder, mirror galvanometer and trans-Atlantic telegraph. 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’s Equation and the Kelvin’s Wave. In astrophysics, there are as well, the moon’s 86-kilometer-long Rupes Kelvin alongside its adjoining 45-kilometer-long Promontorium Kelvin.


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