J.R. Partington (1913)


A Text-Book of Thermodynamics (with special reference to Chemistry) by James Riddick Partington, originally published by the D. Van Nostrand Company in 1913. This new, print-on-demand copy from Hardpress.net was purchased from a leading online bookseller.

JR Partington (1886 – 1965) was a British chemist who attended Max Planck’s legendary lectures on thermodynamics and worked with Walter Nernst for several years in Berlin, where they studied the specific heats of gases. In 1913 Partington returned to Britain to lecture on chemistry at the University of Manchester. This book dates from that time.


James Riddick Partington (1886-1965)

Partington’s book is as close as you can get to an encyclopedia of chemical thermodynamics as it was immediately before the Great War. And because most of the fundamentals of the subject were established by that time, the book is still a good reference even today.

One noteworthy example concerns Gibbs’ most powerful conception, the chemical potential – the intensive thermodynamic variable fulfilling the role of a generalized force driving chemical reactions and changes in phase equilibria. Gibbs introduced μ to the world in 1875, but almost inexplicably neither Planck (1897) nor Lewis & Randall (1923) took up either μ or the name Gibbs gave it in their massively influential textbooks. Planck reinterpreted it in terms of his own creation the Φ function and Lewis renamed it ‘the escaping tendency’. Neither have stood the test of time.

But Partington was faithful to Gibbs’ conception and gave it due prominence in the chapters on gases and dilute solutions. Not only that but he showed how Euler’s Homogeneous Function Theorem could be applied to Gibbs’ definition of μ as a partial derivative to give the classic equation for the Gibbs Free Energy of a mixture of components G = μ1n1 + μ2n2 + … And this was in 1913! The only other time I have seen that level of thoroughness was in Klotz’s Chemical Thermodynamics from 1964.

For the science historian, Partington’s book offers a rich resource. There is a considerable amount of ‘forgotten’ thermodynamics to rediscover – such as Massieu’s theorems describing the free energy functions which actually pre-empt the work of Gibbs, Moutier’s Theorem, Konovalov’s Theorem and the curious electrochemical origins of the Gibbs-Helmholtz equation. Enjoy!


Click on the image to view the entire book on The Internet Archive.


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