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Kelvin - Scientist of Energy

Smith, Crosbie (1991) Kelvin - Scientist of Energy. Superconductor Science and Technology, 4 (9). pp. 502-506. ISSN 0953-2048. (doi:10.1088/0953-2048/4/9/035) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:22756)

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During the reign of Queen Victoria, Glasgow became the 'second city' and workshop of the British Empire. Over the same period, Clydeside's adopted son, William Thomson (1824-1907), rose from College student to first Lord of British science, Baron Kelvin of Largs and, ultimately, was given a resting place alongside Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey. In this paper, I aim to place Kelvin in the context of his city and Empire, showing how both his life and his science expressed his active participation in 19th century industrial society. Very soon after his appointment to the Glasgow University chair of natural philosophy (physics) at the remarkable age of 22, William Thomson embarked on a series of investigations which led him to construct a new kind of physics, the science of energy. Reacting against the action-at-a-distance force physics of the French savants, notably Laplace and Poisson, Thomson employed the engineering concept of 'work' to set forth the principles of thermodynamics, to formulate a new 'field' approach to physical phenomena, and to present a radically-reformed system of cosmology. Introducing the term 'energy' into the scientific language, he skilfully promoted the new science of energy through the British Association for the Advancement of Science such that by the late 1860s Thomson's approach had become thoroughly established as the quintessential British style of mathematical physics in the second half of the 19th century.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1088/0953-2048/4/9/035
Subjects: Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: P. Ogbuji
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 12:37 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:01 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Smith, Crosbie.

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