Absolute zero point of temperature discovered by Lord Kelvin

(111 words)
  • Editors

Historical Context Note

There had been notions of the possibility of an absolute minimum temperature since Robert Boyle's discussion of the concept in 1665, but no-one had been able to determine what exactly this would be. Laplace and Lavoisier conjectured in a 1780 treatise that it might be as low as -3000 degrees Celsius. In 1848, however, William Thomson (later to become Baron Kelvin) published the results of his researches which approached the problem from a different angle, calculating in terms of basic thermodynamic principles. He therefore discovered that the lowest possible temperature - one at which entropy reaches its minimum value - was -273.15 degrees Celsius. This became known, in honour of its discoverer, as 0 Kelvin.

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Editors. "Absolute zero point of temperature discovered by Lord Kelvin". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 August 2013
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=6302, accessed 30 November 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. Victorian Scientific Thought and Applications