Published: Jan 1981
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The principles, or theory, underlying thermoelectric effects were not established by one man at one time, but by several scientists working over a span of many years beginning with Alessandro Volta, who concluded in 1800 that the electricity which caused Galvani's frog to twitch was due to a contact of two dissimilar metals. This conclusion was the forerunner of the principle of the thermocouple. Others built on this base; for example, Thomas Johann Seebeck (1821), Jean Charles Althanase Peltier (1834), and William Thomson—later Lord Kelvin—(1848–1854). During this same period, Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier published his basic heat-conduction equation (1821), Georg Simon Ohm discovered his celebrated equation for electrical conduction (1826), James Prescott Joule found the principle of the first law of thermodynamics and the important I2R heating effect (1840–1848), and Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius announced the principle of the second law of thermodynamics and introduced the concept of entropy (1850).