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Julius Robert von MayerZoomA-Z

Biography

Born
25. November 1814 in Heilbronn (Württemberg, Germany)
Died
20. März 1878 in Germany

In June of 1841, he completed his first scientific paper entitled, "On the Quantitative and Qualitative Determination of Forces." It was largely ignored by other professionals in the area. Then, Mayer became interested in the area of heat and its motion. He presented a value in numerical terms for the mechanical equivalent of heat. He also was the first person to describe the vital chemical process now referred to as oxidation as the primary source of energy for any living creature. Since he was not taken seriously at the time, his achievements were overlooked and his well-deserved credit was given to James Joule. Mayer almost committed suicide after he discovered this fact. He spent some time in mental institutions to recover from this and the loss of some of his children. Several of his papers were published due to the advanced nature of the physics and chemistry. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1859 by the philosophical faculty at the University of Tubingen. His overlooked work was revived in 1862 by fellow physicist John Tyndall in a lecture at the London Royal Institution. In July of 1867, Mayer published "Die Mechanik der Warme." This publication dealt with the mechanics of heat and its motion. In November of 1867, Mayer was awarded personal nobility (von Mayer) which is the German equivalent of a British knighthood.

Mayer was the first person to develop the law of the conservation of energy. This is one of the most significant achievements in the history of physics because this fundamental yet necessary concept forms the backbone of modern day physics. The law of the conservation of energy basically states that it is a requirement that the total mechanical energy of a system remain constant in any isolated system of objects that interact with each other only by way of forces that are conservative. Again, Mayer did not envision relativity nor its theories, but his pioneering work helped to lay the foundation of modern physics which aided in the conception and development of relativity (Bennett, Founding Fathers).

Chronology

1814Geboren am 25. November in Heilbronn (Württemberg, Germany)
1832Eberhard-Karls University where he studied medicine.
1841Prcaticed medicine in Heilbronn.
1878Gestorben am 20. März in Germany