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The title refers to the River Kelvin, which flows close by his laboratory at the University of Glasgow.
His home was the imposing red sandstone mansion Netherhall, in Largs.
For his work on the transatlantic telegraph project he was knighted in 1866 by Queen Victoria, becoming Sir William Thomson.
At the University of Glasgow he did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and formulation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form.
Despite offers of elevated posts from several world-renowned universities Lord Kelvin refused to leave Glasgow, remaining Professor of Natural Philosophy for over 50 years, until his eventual retirement from that post.
The Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow has a permanent exhibition on the work of Lord Kelvin including many of his original papers, instruments, and other artifacts, such as his smoking pipe.
The Thomson children were introduced to a broader cosmopolitan experience than their father's rural upbringing, spending mid-1839 in London and the boys were tutored in French in Paris. Thomson had heart problems and nearly died when he was 9 years old.
He attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, where his father was a professor in the university department, before beginning study at Glasgow University in 1834 at the age of 10, not out of any precociousness; the University provided many of the facilities of an elementary school for able pupils, and this was a typical starting age.