Thomas Andrews (scientist)

Thomas Andrews (scientist)

Infobox Person
name = Thomas Andrews
birth_date = birth date|1813|12|19|mf=y
birth_place = Belfast, Ireland
death_date = death date and age|1885|11|26|1813|12|19|mf=y
death_place = Belfast, Ireland
occupation = chemist and physicist

Thomas Andrews FRS (December 19, 1813–November 26, 1885), was a chemist and physicist who did important work on phase transitions between gases and liquids.


He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland where his father was a linen merchant. He attended the Belfast Academy and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. In 1828 he went to the University of Glasgow to study chemistry under Professor Thomas Thomson, then studied at Trinity College, Dublin, where he gained distinction in classics as well as in science. Finally, at University of Edinburgh in 1835 he was awarded a doctorate in medicine.

Andrews began a successful medical practice in his native Belfast in 1835, also giving instruction in chemistry at the Academical Institution. In 1845 he was appointed vice-president of the newly established Queen's University of Belfast, and professor of chemistry there. He held these two offices until his retirement in 1879 at age 66.


Andrews first became known as a scientific investigator with his work on the heat developed in chemical actions, for which the Royal Society awarded him a Royal Medal in 1844. Another important investigation, undertaken in collaboration with Peter Guthrie Tait, was devoted to ozone.

The work on which his reputation mainly rests, and which best displayed his experimental skill and resourcefulness, was concerned with the liquefaction of gases. In the 1860s he carried out a very complete inquiry into the gas laws expressing the relations of pressure, temperature and volume in carbon dioxide. In particular he established the concepts of critical temperature and critical pressure, showing that the gas passes from the gaseous to the liquid state without any breach of continuity.

In Andrews' experiments on phase transitions, he showed that carbon dioxide may be carried from any of the states which we usually call liquid to any of those which we usually call gas, without losing its homogeneity. These results were cited by the mathematical physicist Willard Gibbs in support of the Gibbs free energy equation. They also set off a race among researchers to liquify various other gases. In 1877-78 Louis Paul Cailletet was the first to liquefy oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen.


His scientific papers were published in a collected form in 1889, with a memoir by Professors Tait and Crum Brown.


*Thomas Andrews, "The Bakerian Lecture: On the Continuity of the Gaseous and Liquid States of Matter", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 159 (1869), pp. 575-590.

Further reading

* cite encyclopedia
last = Scott
first = E.L.
title = Andrews, Thomas
encyclopedia = Dictionary of Scientific Biography
volume = 1
pages = 160-161
publisher = Charles Scribner's Sons
location = New York
year = 1970
isbn = 0684101149

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