J. Willard Gibbs
Date of Birth and Death
February 11, 1839 – April 28, 1903
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.