“Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides;
Go measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old Time, and regulate the sun;…”
– Alexander Pope, Essay On Man
Who would have ever believed that a small portion of a poem inserted in an essay would inspire a great mind to go on and do great things? Yet, these words inspired William Thomsen to go on to become one of the greatest Victorian Age scientists ever. A quick lesson to be drawn here is how it is that the right words in the right ears can achieve so much. If my words might ever mean that much even to my daughters, I’ll count me a blessed man.
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, OM, GCGO, PC, FRS, FRSE was born a Scots-Irishman in Belfast 1824. He was a mathematical physicist and engineer who did important work with respect to the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics. His work helped unify physics in its modern form. He also had extensive maritime interests which brought him to give an important lecture on tides.
The Tides lecture was given by Lord Kelvin on August 25, 1882. It may be read in its entirety here:
A lecture on Lord Kelvin and his contributions to Victorian Age science may be viewed here: