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William Thomson

Geburtstag: 26. Juni 1824
Todesdatum: 17. Dezember 1907
Andere Namen:Lord William Thomson Kelvin,William Kelvin,William Thomson, 1. Baron Kelvin


William Thomson, 1. Baron Kelvin, meist als Lord Kelvin auch Kelvin of Largs bezeichnet, OM, GCVO, PC, PRS, FRSE, war ein in Irland geborener britischer Physiker.

Zitate William Thomson

„Eines wissen wir sicher, und das ist die reale und materielle Existenz des lichttragenden Äthers“

— William Thomson
zitiert in Nick Herbert, Quantenrealität: jenseits der Neuen Physik - Basel, Birkhäuser, 1987 - S. 22

„The beauty and clearness of the dynamical theory, which asserts heat and light to be modes of motion, is at present obscured by two clouds.“

— William Thomson
Context: The beauty and clearness of the dynamical theory, which asserts heat and light to be modes of motion, is at present obscured by two clouds. I. The first came into existence with the undulatory theory of light, and was dealt with by Fresnel and Dr. Thomas Young; it involved the question, how could the earth move through an elastic solid, such as essentially is the luminiferous ether? II. The second is the Maxwell–Boltzmann doctrine regarding the partition of energy. From a 1900, April 27, , Sixth Series, 2, 1–40 (1901).


„I have not the smallest molecule of faith in aerial navigation other than ballooning“

— William Thomson
Context: I am afraid I am not in the flight for “aerial navigation”. I was greatly interested in your work with kites; but I have not the smallest molecule of faith in aerial navigation other than ballooning or of expectation of good results from any of the trials we hear of. So you will understand that I would not care to be a member of the aëronautical Society. As a [http://zapatopi.net/kelvin/papers/letters.html#baden-powell response to Major B. F. S. Baden Powell's request to join the Aeronautical Society, December 8, 1896]. Often reproduced out of context and without citation to any primary source as "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible", like in The Experts Speak : The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation (1984) by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky, p. 236

„It is impossible by means of inanimate material agency, to derive mechanical effect from any portion of matter by cooling it below the temperature of the coldest of the surrounding objects. [Footnote: ] If this axiom be denied for all temperatures, it would have to be admitted that a self-acting machine might be set to work and produce mechanical effect by cooling the sea or earth, with no limit but the total loss of heat from the earth and sea, or in reality, from the whole material world.“

— William Thomson
[http://books.google.com/books?id=nWMSAAAAIAAJ Mathematical and Physical Papers, Vol.1] p. 179 (1882) "On the Dynamical Theory of Heat with Numerical Results Deduced from Mr Joule's Equivalent of a Thermal Unit and M. Regnault's Observations on Steam" originally from Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, March, 1851 and Philosophical Magazine iv, 1852

„There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.“

— William Thomson
Misattributed to Kelvin since the 1980s, either without citation or stating that it was made in an address to the in 1900. and the quote is instead a paraphrase of Albert A. Michelson, who in 1894 stated: "… it seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have been firmly established … An eminent physicist remarked that the future truths of physical science are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals."


„Symmetrical equations are good in their place, but 'vector' is a useless survival, or offshoot from quaternions, and has never been of the slightest use to any creature.“

— William Thomson
Letter to G. F. FitzGerald (1896) as quoted in A History of Vector Analysis : The Evolution of the Idea of a Vectorial System (1994) by Michael J. Crowe, p. 120<!-- also quoted in Vector Calculus (1976) by Jerrold E. Marsden and Anthony J. Tromba -->

„Quaternions came from Hamilton after his really good work had been done, and though beautifully ingenious, have been an unmixed evil to those who have touched them in any way.“

— William Thomson
Letter to Robert Baldwin Hayward (1892), as quoted in Energy and Empire : A Biographical Study of Lord Kelvin (1989) by Crosbie Smith and M. Norton Wise


„Mathematics is the only true metaphysics.“

— William Thomson
As quoted by Silvanus Phillips Thompson, The Life of William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs (1910) [https://books.google.com/books?id=S_PPAAAAMAAJ Vol. 2], p. 1124

„To live among friends is the primary essential of happiness.“

— William Thomson
Lord Kelvin’s Replies to Addresses given on the Celebration of the Jubilee of his Professorship (June 15-17, 1896). Quoted in [http://historical.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/cul.math/docviewer?did=03620002 Lord Kelvin, Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Glasgow 1846-1899 (1899) by George F. Fitzgerald]

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