Lord Kelvin - Eaton Place, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 29.882 W 000° 09.080
30U E 697724 N 5709058
Quick Description: This blue plaque is on a property in Eaton Place in an affluent area of London. Kelvin was, from my mariner's point-of-view, most famous for his "balls".
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 5/27/2012 11:47:32 AM
Waymark Code: WMEGFV
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member Marky
Views: 1

Long Description:

One of the skills we had to learn, when studying for a Master's certificate, was how to correct the magnetic compass and Kelvins "balls" or spheres as they were called played an important part in this process together with Flinder's bar and rod magnets.

Visit this link to see a picture of Kelvin's "balls" on a magnetic compass.

The blue plaque reads:


English Heritage

Lord Kelvin
1824 - 1907
Physicist and
lived here


The Scottish Science Hall of Fame website (visit link) tells us:

"Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) was an eminent physicist with a wide range of interests and enthusiasms.

Best remembered for his talent for theoretical mathematics, he also had a practical ability for solving problems. Thanks to his persistence and ingenuity, the first telegraph cable was successfully installed under the Atlantic Ocean.
Early life and education

William Thomson was born at 21-25 College Square East in Belfast in 1824. This location was later home to the first cinema in Belfast – 'the Kelvin'.

Lord Kelvin's father became Professor of Mathematics at Glasgow University. Kelvin attended university classes from the age of 10. He wrote his first scientific paper, under the pseudonym 'PQR', aged only 16.

In his teens he learned French well enough to read the work of eminent French mathematician Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier. Philip Kelland, Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University, had criticised Fourier's work on the theory of heat. Kelvin boldly stated that Kelland was wrong – and later scientists agreed with him.

From 1841 to 1845 Kelvin attended Cambridge University. He was an excellent student – although he shocked his father by spending his allowance on a boat.
Professorship at Glasgow University

After graduating, Kelvin worked in a Paris laboratory with physics professor Victor Regnault.

Kelvin was influenced by the mathematical ideas of George Green, a self-taught miller's son from Nottingham.

He later brought an essay of Green's to the attention of fellow mathematicians and physicists by republishing it in a respected scientific journal. Until then the essay on mathematical analysis, electricity and magnetism had gone largely unnoticed.

In 1846, aged only 22, Kelvin returned to Glasgow to become Professor of Natural Philosophy. He remained in this post for 53 years. Keen to see students involved in practical experiment, he established what became the first university physics laboratory.

Kelvin scale and thermodynamics

Kelvin continued to study the nature of heat. He realised that it would be useful to be able to define extremely low temperatures precisely. In 1848, he proposed an absolute temperature scale, now called 'the Kelvin scale'.

After further research, Kelvin formulated the second law of thermodynamics. This states that heat will not flow from a colder to a hotter body.

Atlantic telegraph

His interest in the transmission of electricity prompted Kelvin's appointment as Director of the Atlantic Telegraph Company in 1856.

The company was to install a telegraph cable under the Atlantic Ocean. Atlantic Cable Expeditions in 1857, 1858 and 1865 failed, but communication by cable finally succeeded in 1866.

Kelvin received a knighthood for his efforts in this project.

Kelvin at sea

From 1870 onwards, Kelvin spent many summers on his yacht 'Lalla Rookh', and invented several marine instruments to improve navigation and safety.

He introduced a mariner's compass more accurate than any other in existence, and a machine to predict tide levels worldwide.

International celebrity

In 1884 Kelvin travelled to the United States to give a series of lectures. These were enthusiastically received, and were published in 1904 as the 'Baltimore Lectures'.

Kelvin became a Lord in 1892 and took the name Kelvin because of his Glasgow connections. By the time of his death in 1907, he was an international celebrity, widely respected and honoured.

Another anecdote from my nautical stories!

A friend of mine was a third mate with Union Castle that, as part of it duties, used to carry mail and passengers to South Africa. One of his duties was to take the passengers for a tour of parts of the ship that they would not normally see as they were off-limits. He always used to end his tour on the monkey island. That was the deck above the wheelhouse where the magnetic compass was located. He would gather the passengers around the magnetic compass and explain to them its purpose. His grand finale was to place a hand on each of Kelvin's "balls" and, with a straight face, say 'Ladies and gentlemen, this is why it is called a mail (male) ship'. The men used to get the innuendo but the ladies always thought they had learned something new".

Blue Plaque managing agency: English Heritage

Individual Recognized: Lord Kelvin

Physical Address:
15 Eaton Place
London, United Kingdom

Web Address: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
To log an entry for a "Blue Plaque," please try to include a picture of you next to the plaque!
Search for...
Geocaching.com Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Blue Plaques
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
There are no logs for this waymark yet.