James Dewar

James Dewar nsIn thermodynamics, James Dewar (1842-1923) was a Scottish physical chemist noted for his low-temperature thermodynamics work in the liquefaction of gases in his quest to reach absolute zero in temperature or close to it. [1]

In 1852, at the age of ten, Dewar fell through ice of a pond after which it took him two years to recover. In retrospect, Dewar commented that this was his most “formative early experience”. Extended periods of childhood, adolescent, or teenage convalescence to recover health and strength gradually after sickness or weakness are common to many who would go on to become great geniuses, thinkers, and or inventors.

In 1859, Dewar matriculated at the University of Edinburgh, i.e. the Glasgow school of thermodynamics, in natural philosophy, mathematics, and chemistry. During this period, he designed a brass-and-wood model of Fredrich Kekule’s benzene ring, after receiving a copy of this, Kekule invited Dewar to come and work with him.

Chemical thermodynamics
In his 1888 presidential address to the chemical industry society, Dewar gives a fairly decent historical summary of the chemical thermodynamics, citing William Rankine as having done some early outlines, but attributing the proof that thermodynamics is applicable to chemical phenomena to American physicist-engineer Willard Gibbs: [2]

“In a series of remarkable papers read before the Connecticut Academy, Gibbs has proved that the laws of thermodynamics are as applicable to chemical action as to simple changes of state.”

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1. Shachtman, Tom. (1999). Absolute Zero and the Quest for Absolute Cold (James Dewar, pgs. 125-87). New York: Mariner Books.
2. Dewar, James. (1888). “Presidential Address to the Society of Chemical Industry”, Journal of the Society of the Chemical Industry, 2: 474-79; in: The Collected Papers of Sir James Dewar (thermodynamics, pgs. 312-14).

External links
‚óŹ James Dewar – Wikipedia.

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