Josiah Willard Gibbs

Picture of Josiah Willard Gibbs

Date of Birth: 02/11/1839

Age: 64

Birth Place: New Haven

Citizenship: United States


Born February 11, 1839 in New Haven (Conn.) In a family of well-known philologist, professor of theology. He graduated from Yale University, where his successes in the Greek language, Latin and mathematics were awarded with prizes and awards. In 1863 he received his doctorate in philosophy. He became a teacher of the University, with the first two years he taught Latin and only then the math. In 1866-1869 he continued his education in Paris, Berlin and Heidelberg University, where he met the leading mathematicians of the time. Two years after his return to New Haven headed the department of mathematical physics at Yale University, and held it to the end of life.

The first job in the field of thermodynamics, Gibbs introduced the Connecticut Academy of Science in 1872. It was called the Graphical methods in thermodynamics of fluids (Graphical Methods in the Thermodynamics of Fluids) and was devoted to the method developed by Gibbs entropy diagrams. The method allows to graphically represent all the thermodynamic properties of the material and played a major role in engineering thermodynamics. Gibbs developed his ideas in the next work - Methods of geometric representation of thermodynamic properties of substances by means of surfaces (Methods of Geometrical Representation of the Thermodynamic Properties of Substances by Means of Surfaces, 1873), introducing the three-dimensional phase diagram and obtain the relation between the internal energy of the system, entropy and volume.

In 1874-1878 Gibbs published a fundamental treatise on the equilibrium of heterogeneous substances (On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances), which became the basis of chemical thermodynamics. In it, he outlined a general theory of thermodynamic equilibrium and the method of thermodynamic potentials, formulated the rule of phases (now bears his name), he constructed a general theory of surface and electrochemical phenomena, brought fundamental equation, establishing the relationship between the internal energy of a thermodynamic system and thermodynamic potentials and allows to determine the direction of chemical reactions and equilibrium conditions for heterogeneous systems. Theory of heterogeneous equilibrium - the most abstract of all the theories of Gibbs - later found wide practical application.

Gibbs` work on thermodynamics were little known in Europe until 1892. One of the first to appreciate the importance of his graphic techniques Dzh.Maksvell, who built several models of thermodynamic surface of water.

In the 1880s, he became interested in the works of Gibbs U.Gamiltona on quaternions and algebraic work G.Grassmana. By developing their ideas, he created a vector analysis in its present form. In 1902 work The basic principles of statistical mechanics (Elementary Principles in Statistical Mechanics) Gibbs completed the establishment of classical statistical physics. He developed the statistical methods of research allow to obtain thermodynamic functions characterizing the state systems. Gibbs gave a general theory of value fluctuations of these functions from the equilibrium values ??and a description of the irreversibility of physical processes. With his name is associated with such concepts as "Gibbs paradox," "canonical, microcanonical and grand canonical Gibbs distribution", "Gibbs adsorption equation", "Gibbs - Duhem" and others.

Gibbs was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston, a member of the Royal Society of London, he was awarded the Copley Medal, the Rumford Medal. Died Gibbs at Yale April 28, 1903.