thermodynamics

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. 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 took another direction entirely. In 1854…
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Josef Stefan’s Work in Thermodynamics

Josef Stefan’s Work in Thermodynamics

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. Rolf Landauer was born on February 4, 1927, in Stuttgart, Germany. He emigrated to the United States in…
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Julius Mayer – Energy can neither be created or destroyed

Julius Mayer – Energy can neither be created or destroyed

On November 25, 1814, German physician and physicist Julius Robert 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”. It is believed that already as a child, Julius Mayer showed interest with mechanical mechanisms and is…
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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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James Prescott Joule and the Nature of Heat

James Prescott Joule and the Nature of Heat

On December 24, 1818, English physicist and brewer, James Prescott Joule was born. Joule studied the nature of heat, and discovered its relationship to mechanical work. This led to the law of conservation of energy, which led to the development of the first law of thermodynamics. The SI derived unit of energy, the joule, is named after James Joule. James Prescott Joule was the son of a wealthy brewer and was educated by the famous…
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Lord Kelvin and the Analysis of Thermodynamics

Lord Kelvin and the Analysis of Thermodynamics

On December 17, 1907, Irish physicist William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin of Largs, passed away. Thomson did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and formulation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Absolute temperatures are stated in units of kelvin in his honour. He was ennobled in 1892 in recognition of his achievements in thermodynamics. Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides; Go measure earth, weigh air, and state…
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Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and his Work on Gases

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and his Work on Gases

On December 6, 1778, French chemist and physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was born. He is known mostly for two laws related to gases, and for his work on alcohol-water mixtures, which led to the degrees Gay-Lussac used to measure alcoholic beverages in many countries. Gay-Lussac was born at Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat in the present-day department of Haute-Vienne. His father was a lawyer and prosecutor, and worked as a judge in Noblat Bridge. He received…
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