Timeline of Thermodynamics
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Timeline of Thermodynamics
timeline of events in the history of thermodynamics.
Otto von Guericke builds the first vacuum pump 1660 -
Robert Boyle experimentally discovers Boyle's Law, relating the pressure and volume of a gas (published 1662)  1665 -
Robert Hooke published his book Micrographia, which contained the statement: "Heat being nothing else but a very brisk and vehement agitation of the parts of a body."  1667 -
J. J. Becher puts forward a theory of combustion involving combustible earth in his book Physica subterranea (see  Phlogiston theory). 1676-1689 -
Gottfried Leibniz develops the concept of , a limited version of the vis viva conservation of energy 1679 -
Denis Papin designed a steam digester which inspired the development of the piston-and-cylinder steam engine. 1694-1734 -
Georg Ernst Stahl names Becher's combustible earth as phlogiston and develops the theory 1698 -
Thomas Savery patents an early steam engine  1702 -
Guillaume Amontons introduces the concept of absolute zero, based on observations of gases 1738 -
Daniel Bernoulli publishes Hydrodynamica, initiating the kinetic theory 1749 -
Émilie du Châtelet, in her French translation and commentary on Newton's , derives the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica conservation of energy from the first principles of Newtonian mechanics. 1761 -
Joseph Black discovers that ice absorbs heat without changing its temperature when melting 1772 - Black's student
Daniel Rutherford discovers nitrogen,  which he calls  phlogisticated air, and together they explain the results in terms of the phlogiston theory 1776 -
John Smeaton publishes a paper on experiments related to power, work, momentum, and kinetic energy, supporting the conservation of energy 1777 -
Carl Wilhelm Scheele distinguishes heat transfer by thermal radiation from that by convection and conduction 1783 -
Antoine Lavoisier discovers oxygen and develops an explanation for combustion; in his paper "Réflexions sur le phlogistique", he deprecates the phlogiston theory and proposes a caloric theory 1784 -
Jan Ingenhousz describes Brownian motion of charcoal particles on water 1791 -
Pierre Prévost shows that all bodies radiate heat, no matter how hot or cold they are  1798 - Count Rumford ( Benjamin Thompson) publishes his paper An Experimental Enquiry Concerning the Source of the Heat which is Excited by Friction detailing measurements of the frictional heat generated in boring cannons and develops the idea that heat is a form of kinetic energy; his measurements are inconsistent with caloric theory, but are also sufficiently imprecise as to leave room for doubt.
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac publishes Charles's law, discovered (but unpublished) by Jacques Charles around 1787; this shows the dependency between temperature and volume. Gay-Lussac also formulates the law relating temperature with pressure (the pressure law, or Gay-Lussac's law) 1804 - Sir
John Leslie observes that a matte black surface radiates heat more effectively than a polished surface, suggesting the importance of black-body radiation 1805 -
William Hyde Wollaston defends the conservation of energy in On the Force of Percussion 1808 -
John Dalton defends caloric theory in A New System of Chemistry and describes how it combines with matter, especially gases; he proposes that the heat capacity of gases varies inversely with atomic weight 1810 - Sir John Leslie freezes water to ice artificially
Peter Ewart supports the idea of the conservation of energy in his paper On the measure of moving force; the paper strongly influences Dalton and his pupil, James Joule 1819 -
Pierre Louis Dulong and Alexis Thérèse Petit give the Dulong-Petit law for the specific heat capacity of a crystal 1820 -
John Herapath develops some ideas in the kinetic theory of gases but mistakenly associates temperature with molecular momentum rather than kinetic energy; his work receives little attention other than from Joule 1822 -
Joseph Fourier formally introduces the use of dimensions for physical quantities in his Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur 1822 -
Marc Seguin writes to John Herschel supporting the conservation of energy and kinetic theory 1824 -
Sadi Carnot analyzes the efficiency of steam engines using caloric theory; he develops the notion of a reversible process and, in postulating that no such thing exists in nature, lays the foundation for the second law of thermodynamics, and initiating the science of thermodynamics 1827 -
Robert Brown discovers the Brownian motion of pollen and dye particles in water  1831 -
Macedonio Melloni demonstrates that black-body radiation can be reflected, refracted, and polarised in the same way as light 1834 -
Émile Clapeyron popularises Carnot's work through a graphical and analytic formulation. He also combined Boyle's Law, Charles's Law, and Gay-Lussac's Law to produce a Combined Gas Law. PV/T = k  1841 -
Julius Robert von Mayer, an amateur scientist, writes a paper on the conservation of energy, but his lack of academic training leads to its rejection 1842 - Mayer makes a connection between work, heat, and the human
metabolism based on his observations of blood made while a ship's surgeon; he calculates the mechanical equivalent of heat 1842 -
William Robert Grove demonstrates the thermal dissociation of molecules into their constituent atoms, by showing that steam can be disassociated into oxygen and hydrogen, and the process reversed 1843 -
John James Waterston fully expounds the kinetic theory of gases, but according to D Levermore "there is no evidence that any physical scientist read the book; perhaps it was overlooked because of its misleading title, Thoughts on the Mental Functions."   1843 -
James Joule experimentally finds the mechanical equivalent of heat  1845 -
Henri Victor Regnault added Avogadro's Law to the Combined Gas Law to produce the Ideal Gas Law. PV = nRT 1846 - Grove publishes an account of the general theory of the conservation of energy in
On The Correlation of Physical Forces  1847 - Hermann von Helmholtz publishes a definitive statement of the conservation of energy, the first law of thermodynamics 
William Thomson extends the concept of absolute zero from gases to all substances 1849 -
William John Macquorn Rankine calculates the correct relationship between saturated vapour pressure and temperature using his hypothesis of molecular vortices 1850 - Rankine uses his
vortex theory to establish accurate relationships between the temperature, pressure, and density of gases, and expressions for the latent heat of evaporation of a liquid; he accurately predicts the surprising fact that the apparent specific heat of saturated steam will be negative 1850 -
Rudolf Clausius coined the term "entropy" (das Wärmegewicht, symbolized S) to denote heat lost or turned into waste. ("Wärmegewicht" translates literally as "heat-weight"; the corresponding English term stems from the Greek , "I turn".) 1850 - Clausius gives the first clear joint statement of the
first and second law of thermodynamics, abandoning the caloric theory, but preserving Carnot's principle 1851 - Thomson gives an alternative statement of the second law
1852 - Joule and Thomson demonstrate that a rapidly expanding gas cools, later named the
Joule-Thomson effect or Joule-Kelvin effect 1854 - Helmholtz puts forward the idea of the
heat death of the universe 1854 - Clausius establishes the importance of
dQ/T ( Clausius's theorem), but does not yet name the quantity 1854 - Rankine introduces his
thermodynamic function, later identified as entropy 1856 -
August Krönig publishes an account of the kinetic theory of gases, probably after reading Waterston's work 1857 - Clausius gives a modern and compelling account of the kinetic theory of gases in his
On the nature of motion called heat 1859 -
James Clerk Maxwell discovers the distribution law of molecular velocities 1859 -
Gustav Kirchhoff shows that energy emission from a black body is a function of only temperature and frequency 1862 - "
Disgregation", a precursor of entropy, was defined in 1862 by Clausius as the magnitude of the degree of separation of molecules of a body 1865 - Clausius introduces the modern
macroscopic concept of entropy 1865 -
Josef Loschmidt applies Maxwell's theory to estimate the number-density of molecules in gases, given observed gas viscosities. 1867 - Maxwell asks whether
Maxwell's demon could reverse irreversible processes 1870 - Clausius proves the scalar
virial theorem 1872 -
Ludwig Boltzmann states the Boltzmann equation for the temporal development of distribution functions in phase space, and publishes his H-theorem 1873 -
Johannes Diderik van der Waals formulates his equation of state 1874 - Thomson formally states the
second law of thermodynamics 1876 -
Josiah Willard Gibbs publishes the first of two papers (the second appears in 1878) which discuss phase equilibria, statistical ensembles, the free energy as the driving force behind chemical reactions, and chemical thermodynamics in general. 1876 - Loschmidt criticises Boltzmann's H theorem as being incompatible with microscopic reversibility (
Loschmidt's paradox). 1877 - Boltzmann states the relationship between entropy and
probability 1879 -
Jo?ef Stefan observes that the total radiant flux from a blackbody is proportional to the fourth power of its temperature and states the Stefan-Boltzmann law 1884 - Boltzmann derives the Stefan-Boltzmann blackbody radiant flux law from thermodynamic considerations
Henri-Louis Le Chatelier states his principle that the response of a chemical system perturbed from equilibrium will be to counteract the perturbation 1889 -
Walther Nernst relates the voltage of electrochemical cells to their chemical thermodynamics via the Nernst equation 1889 -
Svante Arrhenius introduces the idea of activation energy for chemical reactions, giving the Arrhenius equation 1893 - Wilhelm Wien discovers the displacement law for a blackbody's maximum specific intensity
^ In 1662, he published a second edition of the 1660 book
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