1888 - New science and technology (Lord Kelvin)

Scotland made a considerable contribution to modern science. William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University from 1846 to 1889, was a key figure in the scientific world. He was associated with many major advances in Physics, including the definition of the absolute temperature scale named after him. Shown here are part of his designs for a 50,000-volt electrometer.

Kelvin became Professor of Natural Philosophy (i.e. Physics) at the age of 22. In 1851 his 'On the Dynamical Theory of Heat' contained his version of the second law of thermodynamics and recognised Joule's idea that heat and motion are combined - an idea that ran counter to the scientific belief of the day. He worked on transmitting electric signals over long distances and became chief technical consultant for a transatlantic cable-laying company. His many inventions included the gyroscopic compass. This drawing and instruction note is dated June 1888 and shows part of the process of designing and building a 50,000-volt electrometer. It is from a long correspondence, 1879-1907, with his Glasgow instrument-makers, the firm of Kelvin and James White, Ltd.


New science and technology (Lord Kelvin)


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