1824 - Born on June 26th in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The British physicist William Thomson, Baron Kelvin, the second son of James Thomson, LL.D., professor of mathematics in the university of Glasgow.
1841-1845 - William Thomson entered Peterhouse, Cambridge, and took his degree as second wrangler, to which honor he added that of the first Smith's Prize.
1846 - At 22 years of age, he accepted the chair of natural philosophy in the university of Glasgow, which he filled for fifty-three years, attaining universal recognition as one of the greatest physicists of his time.
1847 - Thomson first met James Prescott Joule at the Oxford meeting of the British Association.
1851 - He presented to the Royal Society of Edinburgh a paper on the dynamical theory of heat, which reconciled the work of Sadi Carnot with the conclusions of Count Rumford, Sir Humphry Davy, Julius Robert Mayer and Joule, and placed the dynamical theory of heat and the fundamental principle of the conservation of energy in a position to command universal acceptance. It was in this paper that the principle of the dissipation of energy, briefly summarized in the second law of thermodynamics, was first stated.
1852 - Thomson married Margaret, daughter of Walter Crum of Thornliebank.
1853 - The oscillatory character of the discharge of the Leyden jar, the foundation of the work of Heinrich Hertz and of wireless telegraphy were investigated by him.
1854-1855 - He is most prominent among telegraphists.
- The stranded form of conductor was due to his suggestion; but it was in the letters which he addressed in November and December of that year to Sir George Gabriel Stokes, and which were published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, that he discussed the mathematical theory of signaling through submarine cables, and enunciated the conclusion that in long cables the retardation due to capacity must render the speed of signaling inversely proportional to the square of the cable's length.
1861 - Thomson induced the British Association to appoint its first famous committee for the determination of electrical standards, and it was he who suggested much of the work carried out by James Clerk Maxwell, Balfour Stewart and Fleeming Jenkin as members of that committee.
1867 - The mirror galvanometer and the siphon recorder was patented.
1873 - He undertook to write a series of articles for Good Words on the mariner's compass.
1890 - He was the president of the Royal Society.
1907 - He died on the 17th of December at his residence, Netherhall, near Largs, Scotland; there was no heir to his title, which became extinct.
Page last updated: 11:01pm, 17th Apr '07