thermodynamics

Rudolf Clausius and the Science of Thermodynamics

Rudolf Clausius and the Science of Thermodynamics

On January 2, 1822, German physicist and mathematician Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius was born. He is considered one of the central founders of the science of thermodynamics, who introduced the concept of entropy in 1865. If for the entire universe we conceive the same magnitude to be determined, consistently and with due regard to all circumstances, which for a single body I have called entropy, and if at the same time we introduce…
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Johannes van der Waals –  A Pioneer in the Molecular Sciences

Johannes van der Waals – A Pioneer in the Molecular Sciences

On November 23, 1837 Dutch theoretical physicist and Nobel Laureate Johannes Diderik van der Waals was born. He is best known for his work on an equation of state for gases and liquids. Johannes van der Waals Background Johannes Diderik van der Waals was the son of a carpenter and could only receive ‘advanced primary education’, which would later on not be enough to actually enroll at a university. When he was…
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Carl von Linde’s Breakthrough in the Refrigeration Process

Carl von Linde’s Breakthrough in the Refrigeration Process

On June 11, 1842, German scientist, engineer, and businessman Carl von Linde was born. Von Linde discovered a refrigeration cycle and invented the first industrial-scale air separation and gas liquefaction processes. These breakthroughs laid the backbone for his 1913 Nobel Prize in Physics. Cotton-Spinning, Locomotive Factory, and Technical University Born in Berndorf, Germany as the son of a German-born minister and Swedish mother, Carl von Linde was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps, but…
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Josef Stefan’s – Black Bodies and Thermodynamic Temperature

Josef Stefan’s – Black Bodies and Thermodynamic Temperature

On March 24, 1835, Carinthian Slovene physicist, mathematician, and poet Josef Stefan was born. Stefan is best known for originating Stefan’s law in 1879, a physical power law stating that the total radiation from a black body is proportional to the fourth power of its thermodynamic temperature T. As long as you are not a physicist specialized in black body radiation, you probably have never heard of Josef Stefan. For me as a computer…
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William Francis Giauque and the Absolute Zero

William Francis Giauque and the Absolute Zero

On May 12, 1895, American chemist and Nobel laureate William Francis Giauque was born. Giauque received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1949 for his “achievements in the field of chemical thermodynamics and especially his work on the behavior of matter at very low temperatures and his closely allied studies of entropy.” William Francis Giauque attended the Niagara Falls Collegiate Institute and after graduating he decided to pursue a career working for…
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Rolf Landauer and the Landauer Principle

On February 4, 1927, German-American physicist Rolf William Landauer was born. Landauer made important contributions in diverse areas of the thermodynamics of information processing, condensed matter physics, and the conductivity of disordered media. He is probably best known for the formulation of the eponymous Landauer Principle concerning the energy used during a computer‘s operation. “We shall call a device logically irreversible if the output of a device does not uniquely define the…
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Lars Onsager and Irreversible Chemical Processes

Lars Onsager and Irreversible Chemical Processes

On November 27, 1903, Norwegian-born American physical chemist and theoretical physicist Lars Onsager was born. The development of a general theory of irreversible chemical processes gained him the 1968 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. These Onsager reciprocal relations have importance in a wide range of applications. Education Lars Onsager was born in Kristiania (today’s Oslo), Norway, to Erling Onsager, a Barrister of the Supreme Court of Norway, and Ingrid, née Kirkeby. After completing…
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Julius von Mayer – Energy can neither be created or destroyed

Julius von Mayer – Energy can neither be created or destroyed

On November 25, 1814, German physician and physicist Julius Robert von Mayer was born. He is best known for enunciating in 1841 one of the original statements of the conservation of energy or what is now known as one of the first versions of the first law thermodynamics, namely that “energy can be neither created nor destroyed“. “Nature has put itself the problem of how to catch in flight light streaming to the…
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Pierre Duhem and the Role of Theory in Science

Pierre Duhem and the Role of Theory in Science

On June 10, 1861, French physicist, mathematician, historian and philosopher of science Pierre Duhem was born. He is best known for his work on chemical thermodynamics, for his philosophical writings on the indeterminacy of experimental criteria, and for his historical research into the science of the European Middle Ages. As a scientist, Duhem also contributed to hydrodynamics and to the theory of elasticity. “A physical theory … is a system of mathematical…
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Daniel Bernoulli and the Bernoulli Principle

Daniel Bernoulli and the Bernoulli Principle

On February 8, 1700, (January 29, according to the then valid Julian calendar), Swiss mathematician and physicist Daniel Bernoulli was born. Being one of the many prominent mathematicians in the Bernoulli family, Daniel Bernoulli is particularly remembered for his applications of mathematics to mechanics, especially fluid mechanics, and for his pioneering work in probability and statistics. His name is commemorated in the Bernoulli principle, a particular example of the conservation of energy,…
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