Thermodynamics founders

In science, founders of thermodynamics, include: Sadi Carnot, Émile Clapeyron, Robert Mayer, James Joule, Hermann von Helmholz, William Thomson, Rudolf Clausius, Peter Tait, James Maxwell, Willard Gibbs, Ludwig von Boltzmann, Max Planck, among others to follow in the 20th century, such as Albert Einstein, Gilbert Lewis, Edward Guggenheim, etc. The founders, by category, are listed below (a work in progress).

The 'true' founder
See main: Thermodynamics pioneers
The one true core "founder of thermodynamics", by all clear measure, is German physicist Rudolf Clausius. The acknowledgment, however, that Clausius is the founder is buried deep in the literature. In fact, only experts or 'founders' themselves, such as Willard Gibbs, who commented that Clausius 'laid the foundations of the science', recognize this fact. Most (about 95%) popularizations of the subject cite Sadi Carnot as the founder, whereas correctly he initiated the subject. The lack of colloquial agreement of one single founder is exemplified by the following collection of quotations making claims or giving stated opinion as to so-and-so founder of thermodynamics, by various individuals (ordered by loose descending founder rank):

Quoted Citation
Clausius (75px)“Regarded as the founder of thermodynamics, [Rudolf Clausius] gave much credit to such predecessors as Sadi Carnot, Henri Clapeyron, Robert Mayer, and others.” Garnett Williams (1997) [1]
Carnot (75px)“Scientists consider [Sadi Carnot] as the founder of thermodynamics and consider the year 1824 as the birthdate of this discipline.”Pierre Perrot (1998) [3]
William Thomson (75px)Lord Kelvin, the founder of thermodynamics, once said [in 1883]: ‘when you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.” Alfred Tassel (1973) [7]
Rankine (75px)Rankine was really the founder of the modern science of thermodynamics and his was the first book on the subject.”John Emswiler (1921) [5]
Gibbs (75px) “American theoretical physicist and mathematician Willard Gibbs [is] often described as the founder of thermodynamics.” Tim Armstrong (2003) [6]
Joseph Black (75px)Black’s contributions [heat capacity] qualify him as the true founder of thermodynamics.” Laszlo Tisza (1966) [4]
Benjamin Thomson (75px)“Indeed, nowhere in Capital probably does Marx so excel himself in vituperation as in his description of the founder of thermodynamics as ‘an American humbug, the baronised Yankee, Benjamin Thompson (alias Count Rumford) …”Frederick Soddy (1926) [2]

Classical thermodynamics
See main: Mechanical Theory of Heat, Thermodynamics, Classical thermodynamics
  1. Sadi Carnot
  2. Émile Clapeyron
  3. Robert Mayer
  4. James Joule
  5. William Rankine
  6. Rudolf Clausius
  7. William Thomson
  8. Peter Tait

Statistical thermodynamics
See main: Statistical thermodynamics, Statistical mechanics
  1. James Maxwell
  2. Ludwig Boltzmann
  3. Willard Gibbs

Chemical thermodynamics
See main: Chemical thermodynamics
  1. Hermann von Helmholz
  2. Willard Gibbs
  3. Gilbert Lewis
  4. Merle Randall
  5. Edward Guggenheim

Quantum/radiation thermodynamics
See main: Quantum thermodynamics
  1. Max Planck
  2. Albert Einstein
Max von Laue (photos) f2
Scientific geniuses on the wall at the house of Max von Laue during the 1931 dinner party photo (Ѻ) of Walther Nernst, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Robert Millikan, and von Laue.

Relativistic thermodynamics
See main: Relativistic thermodynamics
  1. Max Planck
  2. Max von Laue
  3. Ferencz Jüttner
  4. John Synge
  5. Carl Eckart
  6. Nikolay Chernikov

Nonequilibrium thermodynamics
See main: Nonequilibrium thermodynamics; Irreversible thermodynamics
  1. Théophile de Donder
  2. Josef Meixner
  3. Peter Mazur

Biochemical thermodynamics
See main: Biochemical thermodynamics, Biothermodynamics, Biological thermodynamics, Bioenergetics
  1. Keith Burton
  2. Albert Lehninger
  3. Harold Morowitz
  4. Gordon Hammes
  5. David Nicholis
  6. Stuart Ferguson
  7. Donald Hayne

Human thermodynamics
See main: Human thermodynamics pioneers
  1. Sigmund Freud
  2. Brooks Adams
  3. Henry Adams
  4. Charles Galton Darwin
  5. Ilya Prigogine
  6. Georgi Gladyshev
  7. Libb Thims
  8. David Hwang
See also
Who is the greatest thermodynamicist?

1. Williams, Garnett P. (1997). Chaos Theory Tamed (pg. 382). Joseph Henry Press.
2. Soddy, Frederick. (1926). Virtual Wealth and Debt - the Solution of the Economic Paradox (pg. 101). London: George Allen & Unwin LTD.
3. Perrot, Pierre. (1998). A to Z of Thermodynamics (pg. 32). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
4. Tisza, Laszlo. (1966). Generalized Thermodynamics (pg. 17). MIT Press.
5. Emswiler, John E. (1921). Thermodynamics (pg. 247). McGraw-Hill.
6. Roberts, Neil. (2003). A Companion to Twentieth-century Poetry (pg. 84). Wiley-Blackwell.

External links
Best thermodynamicist poll (with 20+ comments) – by Chad Orzel, 28 Jul 09.
Best thermodynamicist poll (results explained) – by Chad Orzel, 29 Jul 09.
Thermodynamicists (Category) - Wikipedia.

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