J. Willard Gibbs

Brandon Archer

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Place of Birth

New Haven, CT

Date of Birth and Death

February 11, 1839 – April 28, 1903


Yale, 1854

Major Contribution to Physics

His application of thermodynamics theory covered a large part of physical chemistry from an empirical into a deductive science.

Summary of Work

From 1876 to 1878, he worked on the principles of thermodynamics, applying them to the complex processes involved in chemical reactions. He discovered the concept of "fuel" that makes chemical reactions work. Gibbs took all of the variables involved in a chemical reaction - temperature, pressure, energy, volume, and entropy - and included them in one simple equation called "The Phase Rule". He published "The Elementary Principles of Statistical Mechanics" in 1902 which eventually led to Quantum Mechanics.