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February 11th is Josiah Gibbs' birthday. Gibbs was an American chemist who didn't get much recognition for his work until after his death. He began his career with an engineering degree and a position tutoring Latin and Natural Philosophy at Yale. After a three year tour working in European laboratories, he discovered a new love in the study of chemistry and physics. After returning to Yale, he was appointed their first Professor of Mathematical Physics.

He worked on a variety of projects including the development of vector analysis as a mathematical tool, optics and statistical mechanics. His largest contribution was combining the study of thermodynamics and chemistry. He introduced the concept of chemical potential and free energy. This was a concept that related all the different energies such as chemical, electrical, and thermal and the entropy of the system and the system's ability to perform mechanical work.

Gibbs laid the groundwork for mathematical physical chemistry and chemical thermodynamics. Find out what else occurred on this day in science history.


February 11, 2012 at 4:25 am
(1) bolade says:

Bravo to him..
Eternal rest grant unto him oh Lord.
Requiscat in pace

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