1 On October 13, 1846, 175 years ago almost to the day, a young man was admitted as professor of the Natural Philosophy department at Glasgow University. William Thomson, then aged 22, would hold the post for 53 years, becoming better known as Lord Kelvin.

Glasgow Times: Lord Kelvin

2 Although not born in Glasgow (he was originally from Belfast), Lord Kelvin is inextricably linked to the city, moving here at the age of six when his father took up a professorship at the University of Glasgow. His title is named after the river which flows past the university where he made his name as a giant of science. He was the fourth child in a family of seven whose mother died when he was a young child. The young William and his brother James actually matriculated at Glasgow University in 1834 at the ages of 10 and 11 respectively, becoming the institution’s youngest students.

Glasgow Times: Lord Kelvin

3 Thomson won a gold medal at the age of 15 for ‘An Essay on the Figure of the Earth’, the first of many university prizes, and his first published article appeared when he was 16. He went to Cambridge in 1841, and then Paris, before returning to Glasgow in 1846. He made many advances in physics, including the creation of the Kelvin temperature scale and the formulation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics which explains that heat will not flow from a colder body to a hotter one.

4 Lord Kelvin’s other impressive achievements include the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable between Ireland and Newfoundland in the early 1860s, and the development of a compass for iron ships. His home on the Glasgow University campus was the first house in the world to be fully lit by electricity, using 106 lamps.

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5 Lord Kelvin is buried in Westminster Abbey next to Isaac Newton, under a window which pays tribute to him as ‘Engineer, Natural Philosopher.’