Kelvin, William Thomson, 1st Baron

(redirected from William Kelvin)

Kelvin, William Thomson, 1st Baron,

1824–1907, British mathematician and physicist, b. Belfast. He was professor of natural philosophy at the Univ. of Glasgow (1846–99). He is known especially for his work on heat and electricity. In thermodynamicsthermodynamics,
branch of science concerned with the nature of heat and its conversion to mechanical, electric, and chemical energy. Historically, it grew out of efforts to construct more efficient heat engines—devices for extracting useful work from expanding hot gases.
..... Click the link for more information.
 his work of coordinating the theories of heat held by various leading scientists of his time established firmly the law of the conservation of energy as proposed by Joule. He introduced the Kelvin temperature scaleKelvin temperature scale,
a temperature scale having an absolute zero below which temperatures do not exist. Absolute zero, or 0°K;, is the temperature at which molecular energy is a minimum, and it corresponds to a temperature of −273.
..... Click the link for more information.
, or absolute scale, of temperaturetemperature,
measure of the relative warmth or coolness of an object. Temperature is measured by means of a thermometer or other instrument having a scale calibrated in units called degrees. The size of a degree depends on the particular temperature scale being used.
..... Click the link for more information.
. He also discovered the Thomson effect in thermoelectricitythermoelectricity,
direct conversion of heat into electric energy, or vice versa. The term is generally restricted to the irreversible conversion of electricity into heat described by the English physicist James P.
..... Click the link for more information.
. The importance of the discoveries and improvements that he made in connection with the transmission of messages by submarine cables led to his establishment as a leading authority in this field. He invented the reflecting galvanometer and the siphon recorder, an instrument by which telegraphic messages are recorded in ink fed from a siphon.

His brother, James Thomson, 1822–92, an engineer, was professor at Queen's College, Belfast, from 1857 to 1873. He is known for his studies of the variation in melting point with pressure as well as for his research in hydraulics.


See biographies of Baron Kelvin by S. P. Thompson (1910) and A. G. King (1925).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
To digress, William Kelvin, a British physicist in the late 1800s, didn't know a thing about SAD, but he did heat a block of carbon and recorded the colors it emitted at different temperatures - starting with red at the low end, then turning yellow and blue until it reached a brilliant blue-white at the highest temperature.
Kelvin:The metric unit of temperature comes from the Kelvin scale named after the Scottish physicist William Kelvin who was a professor at Glasgow university.