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Baron Kelvin: Thermodynamics & Antiscientific Stubbornness

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (June 26, 1824 – December 17, 1907) better known as Lord Kelvin was a British mathematician, physicist, mechanic and engineer. Known for his work in the field of thermodynamics, mechanics, electrodynamics. One of nicknames was “King of Victorian Physics.”


Kelvin came up with the international system of absolute temperature that bears his name. He invented an electrostatic voltage generator, named after him “Kelvin water dropper.”

Besides the absolute temperature scale (known as ‘the Kelvin scale’), his other discoveries include:

  • The second law of thermodynamics;
  • Telegraph cables and the galvanometer;
  • Marine instruments;
  • A theory about the shape of atoms;
  • The tetrakaidecahedron.

In 1892, he received an award in recognition of his achievements in thermodynamics and his opposition to Irish self-government. He was the first British scholar to be elevated to the House of Lords. Despite offers for promotions from several internationally renowned universities, Kelvin remained professor of natural philosophy in Glasgow for over 50 years, until his final retirement.


Kelvin was known not only as an insanely talented and tenacious scientist, but also as a critic of evolution who even denied the age of Earth according to its principles.

Lord Kelvin based his calculations on the fact that at the very beginning the Earth was a hot molten sphere and gradually cooled down over time. He tried to calculate how long it would take for our planet to reach the current temperature gradient. His calculations were wrong. Partly because scientists at that point did not know about radioactivity, which is why he could not include this factor in his calculations (radioactive elements like uranium and thorium are an additional source of heat inside our planet).

Baron also claimed that X-Rays and airplanes are a scam. Furthermore, back in 1900 he stated that there was nothing new left in physics to discover.

However, Kelvin’s biggest mistake was concentrated in another aspect. Because even if he would take into account radioactive elements, his estimate of the age of the Earth would still not change too much. Kelvin ignored the possibility that unknown mechanisms distribute heat unevenly across the planet. He believed that the degree of heating is the same both on the surface of the Earth and in its interior.

Lord Kelvin ignored the fact that after it was scientifically proven that the interior of the Earth is much hotter and the heat is distributed in the bowels with greater efficiency. Perhaps because of the fact that Kelvin was right too often he could not admit that he was wrong in any way. His diaries and documents indicate that he never accepted this theory.

Linus Pauling: Physics, Chemistry, Political Activism & Preaching of Antiscientific Theory

Linus Carl Pauling (February 28, 1901 (1901-02-28) August 19, 1994) – physicist, chemist, crystallographer, pacifist and double laureate of Nobel Prize.


In the early 1960s, Pauling was one of the world’s most respected figures of the 20th century. He combined quantum physics with chemistry, made an invaluable contribution to understanding the nature of chemical bonds, and laid the foundations for the theory of native and denatured proteins. In addition to all this, Linus also was passionately involved in social activities, agitating humanity against the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons. For his achievements in the field of chemistry, Pauling received the first Nobel Prize in 1954, and for his political activism he was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962.


Soon after receiving the honorary awards, the process of turning the eminent scientist into an obscurantist has begun. It all started with a letter from some Irwin Stone, who wrote to Pauling that he (a 65-year-old scientist at that time) can live to at least 90 years old, if he consumed 3000 mg of vitamin C every day (for comparison: the daily dose of this substance, depending on gender and age is 40-90 mg).

Pauling began to promote his unproven theory to the masses. In 1970 he published the book “Vitamin C and the Common Cold“, which became a bestseller and led to the fact that ascorbic acid became the # 1 commodity in pharmacies. And even though before and after the publication of the scientist’s book, many studies showed that “horse doses” of vitamin C do not bring any biological benefit, Pauling still did not change his opinion. Those who knew him closely were not surprised with this attitude since according to their words Linus was an extremely vain person. He loved to point out other people’s mistakes, but he did not want to admit any of his own.