Person: Waterston, John James
John James Waterston was a Scottish physicist who worked in the kinetic theory of gases.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- John Waterston studied at Edinburgh High School, then entered Edinburgh University to study mathematics and physics while at the same time being an apprentice in the engineering firm of Grainger and Miller.
- At Edinburgh University he was a pupil of John Leslie who gave him an excellent training in mathematical physics.
- Waterston published his first paper on mathematical physics while a student.
- Waterston went to London in 1832 to work for James Walker, a leading civil engineering firm, where he worked as a surveyor for laying railway tracks.
- Waterston's most significant contribution came two years later when he submitted a long paper on the kinetic theory of gases to the Royal Society.
- As was the practice, Waterston's manuscript was not returned to him, but instead became the property of the Royal Society and was retained in the archives.
- Waterston had not made a copy of this complex manuscript and was unable to reconstruct it in sufficient detail to submit it for publication elsewhere.
- Waterston's death was rather mysterious.
- It was Rayleigh who discovered Waterston's unpublished paper in 1891 and the Royal Society then published it when he pointed out that its importance in light of the later work along the same lines by Clausius and Maxwell.
Born 1811, Edinburgh, Scotland. Died 18 June 1883, Edinburgh, Scotland.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Scotland
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive