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JAMA 100 Years Ago
December 26, 2007


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(24):2921. doi:10.1001/jama.298.24.2921

With the death of Lord Kelvin—long known as Sir William Thomson—a master in science has gone from among us, but it will be long ere the impetus of his fruitful life ceases to influence the world of knowledge. His was one of those cases in which the promise of the future was early shown. The son of a distinguished mathematician, coming of the vigorous stock of a Scotch-Irish farmer, he was born at Belfast, June 25, 1824. While yet young his father removed to Glasgow to take the chair of mathematics in that university, and there young Thomson received his early education. From Glasgow, where he had already made himself known to science by his mathematical and physical papers, he entered St. Peter's College, Cambridge, where he took his degree in 1845 with the highest mathematical honors. . . . His subsequent career was one long triumph of illustrious work fitly recognized with such honors as his sovereign, his country and the scientific world at large had it in their power to bestow. First came his election at the early age of 29 to the chair of natural philosophy at the University of Glasgow, which post he held until his retirement in 1899. . . .