Talk:William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin

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Former good article nominee William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
August 26, 2006 Peer review Reviewed
September 25, 2006 Good article nominee Not listed
Current status: Former good article nominee
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Much of this text originally came from the book Heroes of the Telegraph by John Munro, available at Project Gutenberg: [1]. Lupo 14:16, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)

a luddite?[edit]

When I watched the comedy movie "Around the world in eighty days" by Jackie Chan, the Lord Kelvin portraited in the movie was against scientific advances. He made comments like "Whatever scientific discovery needed by mankind was already found". Then the movie director's commentary said that this character was based on the real person and his ridiculous comments and views. The movie purposely ridiculed him for what he was. Though it is POV to judge on his personality and belief, it would be neutral to quote some of his views here in this article. Kowloonese 23:39, Dec 29, 2004 (UTC)

Well, certainly a Jackie Chan movie is an authoratative source of unassailable integrity, so that's good enough for me. Also, don't forget the information on Charlie Chaplin that can be gleaned from "Shanghai Knights". --Doradus 18:33, May 12, 2005 (UTC)

Extra content[edit]

I found this text hidden in a comment at the end of the article! Bizarre!

I feel that as much of the technical detail as possible sould go to transatlantic telegraph cable (an article needing attention) while trying to keep Thomson as self-contained as possible.

< !-- More detail which belongs elsewhere It was known that the conductor should be of copper, possessing a high conductivity for the electric current, and that its insulating jacket of gutta-percha should offer a great resistance to the leakage of the current. Moreover, experience had shown that the protecting sheath or armour of the core should be light and flexible as well as strong, in order to resist external violence and allow it to be lifted for repair. There was another consideration, however, which at this time was rather a puzzle. As early as 1823, Francis Ronalds had observed that electric signals were retarded in passing through an insulated wire or core laid under ground, and the same effect was noticeable on cores immersed in water, and particularly on the lengthy cable between England and the Hague. Faraday showed that it was caused by induction between the electricity in the wire and the earth or water surrounding it. A core, in fact, is an attenuated Leyden jar; the wire of the core, its insulating jacket, and the soil or water around it stand respectively for the inner tinfoil, the glass, and the outer tinfoil of the jar. -->

Cutler 07:38, July 27, 2005 (UTC)

Moved content to Submarine communications cable or deleted as duplicated. Cutler 15:56, July 27, 2005 (UTC)

"Fears were realized" confusing paragraph[edit]

I was confused by this paragraph, mainly by the first sentence because it stated earlier that Thomson did experiments to find better ways of doing things for the cable went head-to-head with Whitehouse before on it. Why would his "fears be realized" when a comparative study showed that his experiments actually were better than Whitehouse's?

"Thomson's fears were realised and Whitehouse's apparatus proved insufficiently sensitive and had to be replaced by Thomson's mirror galvanometer. Whitehouse continued to maintain that it was his equipment that was providing the service and started to engage in desperate measures to remedy some of the problems. He only succeded in fatally damaging the cable by applying 2,000 V. When the cable failed completely Whitehouse was dismissed, though Thomson objected and was reprimanded by the board for his interference. Thomson subsequently regretted that he had acquiesced too readily to many of Whitehouse's proposals and had not challenged him with sufficient energy"

Did I miss something?????[edit]

Didnt he invent the electrostatic generator? Why wasn't mentioned Or did i miss something (which is possible).

Kelvin was Scottish[edit]

Although he was born in Belfast in the UK he was of Scottish parentage and the family moved back to Scotland again when he was only ten years old. He was never Irish in any real sense. Kelvinside is an area of Glasgow, Scotland, where he took his peerage name from. Centuryofconfusion (talk) 22:51, 3 June 2016 (UTC)

What do you mean by Irish, "in any real sense"?! Do you have a certain narrow caricature definition that you want to impose here, is there a political/tribal aspect to it? Do you want to drag strange old ideas of 'blood' and religion into it? Do you associate the word Irish with some people from particular 'blood lines' and (historically) speaking a certain language? These are quite odd ideas, and sound like something from the 17th century! Thomson was born in Ireland and grew up in Ireland to the age of about 10. When he went to Scotland he was considered Irish, and he considered himself Irish. He considered himself British aswell. He did not consider himself to be from an old Gaelic-Irish family, because he wasn't, and nobody else did either, but all considered him Irish, including himself. In a speech of 1883, William Thomson "said he spoke as an Irishman on the Irish Question.", see in p67 of Or do you think William Thomson was wrong about himself, just that he was very good at the physics and mathsy stuff but is not to be listened to if it does not fit in with your ideas of where somebody is from (even if he's actually from there!)? He should best be described as Irish-Scottish, in that he became a naturalized Scottish person, after his childhood in Ireland. Also you wrote that he was of Scottish parentage, but his father was actually the fourth son of a farmer in Co.Down (fyi, not in Scotland). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Donn300 (talkcontribs) 20:11, 27 June 2016 (UTC)

Yes, I see your point. But Scotch-Irish is the term you want. Not Irish-Scottish. Centuryofconfusion (talk) 22:46, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
Scotch-Irish on wikipedia:
·The Ulster Scots people, an ethnic group in Ulster, Ireland, who trace their roots to settlers from Scotland
·Scotch-Irish Americans, descendants of Ulster Scots who first migrated to America in large numbers in the 18th and 19th centuries
·Scotch-Irish Canadians, descendants of Ulster Scots who migrated to Canada
Kelvin was none of these things so Scotch/Scots-Irish isn't the correct term. 2A02:C7D:6998:1800:DC7:8EBA:E8A1:521C (talk) 21:33, 1 December 2016 (UTC)

He was in the first group that you list. He was an Ulster Presbyterian and his ancestry came from Scotland. He was therefore an Ulster Scot who migrated to Scotland and became Scottish. We could perhaps say that he was Ulster Scot/Scottish. Sandstable (talk) 20:06, 4 December 2016 (UTC)

2 dark clouds lecture never mentioned blackbody radiation[edit]

This paragraph misrepresents what was in Lord Kelvin's two dark clouds lecture:

"On 27 April 1900 he gave a widely reported lecture titled Nineteenth-Century Clouds over the Dynamical Theory of Heat and Light to the Royal Institution.[61][62] The two "dark clouds" he was alluding to were the unsatisfactory explanations that the physics of the time could give for two phenomena: the Michelson–Morley experiment and black body radiation."

Having just read through the whole lecture (already linked in reference 61), I was struck by how different the lecture is from what's described in this paragraph. He never addresses the subject of blackbody radiation in any way in the lecture. He does mention the Michelson-Morley experiment but it is just one of many points he makes regarding his first cloud; it does not appear to be the main focus. The 2 dark clouds he mentions are:

Cloud 1.) Relative motion of ether and ponderable bodies

Cloud 2.) The Equipartition Theorem

Sections 2 through 11 deal with cloud 1. He makes many arguments that there is confusion surrounding the question of how matter can move through ether without affecting it, some theoretical and some experimental, citing many different works. But only 1 of the sections, section 10, deals with the Michelson-Morley experiment.

Sections 12 through 56 deal with cloud 2. His point about cloud 2 is that he believes that the Law of Equipartition of Energy (which he refers to mostly as the "Boltzmann-Maxwell doctrine") is false. He goes through many long calculations (mostly involving scattering angles between molecules, it looks like) which he claims disprove it, and also offers many different experiments which he believes demonstrate it's false (such as the specific heats of diatomic gasses not matching the degrees of freedom diatomic molecules appear to have). None of the 45 sections dealing with cloud 2 mention blackbody radiation, blackbodies, or even radiation at all. It's true that Max Planck had already been studying blackbody radiation for years in Germany, and later that year (Dec 1900) came up with an empirical formula for it based on the hypothesis that E=hf. But there's no indication in Kelvin's lecture that he was aware of Planck's work on blackbodies.

Correction to an earlier statement I had at the end of this paragraph: Kelvin was right about both clouds 1 & 2, so does deserve credit for anticipating the 2 major revolutions in physics that were about to come. Both the aether and equipartition ended up breaking down. So I think the only thing that needs to be changed is the description of his 2nd cloud as being blackbody radiation to being equipartition... and possibly changing the description of the 1st cloud from being Michelson-Morley to discomfort with the accepted theory of how matter moves through the aether.

Above comments added by Spoonless (talkcontribs) 18 March 2017 (UTC)
You are probably correct as you have taken the trouble to read Kelvin's lecture. I think it would be best if you were to go ahead and make the necessary changes to the article, since you would have the details straighter than most of us at least. You could add "See talk" to your edit summary for those who might want a full justification. Dirac66 (talk) 18:41, 19 March 2017 (UTC)