William Kelvin was a nineteenth century scientist famed for his work on electricity
When and Where was he Born?
26th June 1824, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Christened as William Thomson.
William Lord Kelvin was the son of James Thomson, Professor of Mathematics and engineering in Belfast and at the University of Glasgow. Fourth child of seven.
William and his elder brother James were taught at home by their father. University of Glasgow. Peterhouse, Cambridge.
Timeline/Biography of Lord Kelvin:
1833: Family moved to Glasgow as his father started a teaching post there at the university.
1840: He spent the summer in Germany and the Netherlands.
1845: Kelvin elected a Fellow of St Peter’s College, Cambridge. He began the first mathematical development of Faraday’s idea that electric induction takes place through an intervening medium, or “dielectric”, and not by some incomprehensible “action at a distance”. It was in some part in response to this work that Michael Faraday undertook his own research that led to the discovery of the Faraday effect, which held that light and magnetic/electric phenomena were related.
1846: Kelvin was elected to the Chair of Natural Philosophy a Glasgow University.
1847: He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
1851: Kelvin began work on what would become the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
1857: In August he sailed on board the cable-laying ship HMS Agamemnon. Kelvin had worked on the technical aspects of cable laying for telegraph communications and also the theory of passing a signal through such submarine cables. The cable broke after only a few yards.
1865: Sailed on the cable laying ship SS Great Eastern but the voyage again was overtaken by technical problems. The cable was lost after over a thousand miles had been laid.
1866: Kelvin was knighted on 10th November after being part of a team which completed a successful trans-Atlantic cable laying.
1870: Now addicted to seafaring Kelvin bought a 126 ton schooner called the “Lalla Rookh” and used it as a place for entertaining.
1880’s: He worked on a navigational compass to help take away magnetic deviations.
1884: Kelvin delivered a group of lectures at Johns Hopkins University in the United States of America in which he attempted model a physical property for the ether, a medium that most scientists of the time believed in and which he hoped would support electromagnetic waves.
1892: He was raised to the Peerage as Baron Kelvin, of Largs.
1893: Kelvin headed an international commission to oversee the design of the Niagara Falls power station.
1896: Made a Knight Grand Cross of the Victorian Order.
1902: Kelvin becomes one of the first people to receive the Order of Merit.
1867: “The Treatise on Natural Philosophy”
1. September 1852 to Margaret Crum of Thornliebank. (Died 17th June 1870)
2. 24 June 1874 to Fanny Blandy from Madeira.
When and Where did he Die?
17th December 1907, Netherhall, Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
Central aisle of the Nave, Westminster Abbey, London next to Isaac Newton.
Places of Interest: