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William Thompson

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Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, OM, GCVO, PC, PRS, FRSE or Lord Kelvin, (Born::June 26, 1824Died::December 17, 1907) was born to a middle-class Irish-Scottish family in Belfast, Ireland. His family moved to Glasgow, Scotland after his mother died in 1832. In 1834 William entered as a student at the University of Glasgow. In the school year of 1839-40 he earned the class prize in Astronomy and was awarded for an essay he wrote called "On the Figure of the Earth". In 1841 William Thompson enrolled as a student in Peterhouse College, University of Cambridge. While a student he wrote twelve papers for the Cambridge Mathematical Journal. He was also a very musical person and was one of the founders of the Cambridge University Musical Society. He also won the Smith's prize for mathematical physics.

After graduating BA with Honours, he headed for London and then on to Paris. On his journey he met some of the important mathematicians and scientists including Victor Regnault. William worked as an assistant for Regnault in his laboratory on the efficiency of steam engines. That same year William Thompson found George Green's essay written in 1828 called "Application of Mathematical Analysis to the Theories of Electricity and Magnetism".

Once he got back to Cambridge, he was elected a Fellow of Peterhouse College. In 1846 he was elected Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. He was also elected a member of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow. During that same year he was also elected to be a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1852 William Thompson introduced his Absolute Temperature Scale founded on Sade Carnot's Theory of the Motive Power of Heat. He continued to write and publish important papers on the Dynamical Theory of Heat and he helped establish the Laws of Thermodynamics. In 1852 William Thompson with the help of John Prescott Joule discovered the Joule-Thompson Effect.

After many failed attempts to create an Atlantic Telegraph Cable, William Thompson headed another attempt launched from Valencia Bay. This time it was successful, and on the 26th of July the final link was made at Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. Then at Windsor Castle in 1866, William Thompson was knighted by Queen Victoria as a reward for his help in the Atlantic telegraph cable and service in science. Sir William, along with Peter Guthrie Tait, published a Treatise on Natural Philosophy in 1867. During the 1870's he produced successful patents for improvements in telegraphic equipment, mariners' compasses and navigational sounding apparatus. He was then elected as president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1871.

Sir William Thompson was created 1st Baron Kelvin in 1892.

When Lord Kelvin died in 1907, he had produced 661 scientific publications and 70 patents. Kelvin's name is still remembered in his temperature scale, cloud formations in the sky, and in waves on the water of the seas and oceans.

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