William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, OM, GCVO, PC, PRS, FRSE, (26 June 1824 – 17 December 1907), widely known for developing the Kelvin scale of absolute temperature measurement, was a mathematical physicist, engineer, and outstanding leader in the physical sciences of the 19th century. He did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form.
Born in Ireland, Thomson studied at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. On graduating, he became a mathematics teacher at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. During his life Thomson published more than 600 scientific papers and filed over 70 patents.
As early as 1845 Thomson pointed out that the experimental results of William Snow Harris were in accordance with the laws of Coulomb. Over the period 1855 to 1867, Thomson collaborated with Peter Guthrie Tait the Treatise on Natural Philosophy that unified the various branches of physical science under the common principle of energy. His inventions included the current balance for the precise specification of the ampere, the standard unit of electric current.
In 1893, Thomson headed an international commission to decide on the design of the Niagara Falls power station. Despite his previous belief in the superiority of direct current electric power transmission, he agreed to use alternating current after seeing a Westinghouse demonstration at the Chicago World's Fair. Read more...