The Scientific Papers of J. Willard Gibbs


THESE two handsome volumes are a fitting memorial to one who carved out for himself a very remarkable niche in the temple of scientific fame. With the exception of his one published book on statistical dynamics, we have in these collected papers practically all that Willard Gibbs put into form suitable for publication. Compared with the literary output of the leaders of science of the passing generation, this is a very limited contribution if judged only in regard to quantity. But the quality and far-reaching importance of Willard Gibbss work place it on an eminence of excellence comparatively rarely reached. This remark specially applies to his great papers on the equilibrium of heterogeneous substances, which with his other papers on thermodynamics constitute the first volume of 434 pages. All are agreed as to the supreme importance of the thermodynamic memoirs, which give to their author a unique place among those who have done most to establish and develop the principles of this fundamental part of the doctrine of energy. It is not quite the same with the papers which form the second volume, of 284 pages, although in these also the authors characteristic qualities of mind show themselves. There is always an originality of view and a logical severity of treatment which indicate that the author has well digested his material before putting it in printed form before the eye of the public. Nevertheless, even if we do not consider the contents of vol. ii. as attaining the same high average of excellence as the contents of vol. i., their comparative brevity makes good the claim that in Willard Gibbs we had a writer and thinker of very exceptional merit.

The Scientific Papers of J. Willard Gibbs.

In two volumes. Vol. i., Thermodynamics. Vol. ii., Dynamics, Vector Analysis, Light, &c. Vol. i., pp. xxviii + 434, price 24s. net; vol. ii., pp. viii + 284, price 18s. net. (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1906.)

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K., C. The Scientific Papers of J. Willard Gibbs . Nature 75, 361–362 (1907) doi:10.1038/075361a0

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