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Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford


Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford
Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford

He is best known for his experiments on heat and friction, which largely dispelled the notion that heat is a material substance (caloric) and is instead kinetic energy (motion). Rumford experimented with gunpowder, measured thermal conductivities, heat capacities and surface tensions. His many inventions included improved chimneys, a double boiler, a drip coffee pot and he introduced the potato as a staple food. Though born in Massachusetts, he was a Royalist, fled to England in 1776, was knighted by George III and founded the Royal Institution in London. A civil service position in Bavaria led to his title Count Rumford (the name, at the time, of Concord, NH).

Sponsor: Gary J. Blanchard
John L. McCracken

Location in chemistry building: Third Floor; West Wing North Wall; Sequence 1

Source: Fogg Art Museum