|Trained as a civil engineer, William Rankine was
appointed to the chair of civil engineering and mechanics at Glasgow in 1855. He developed
methods to solve the force distribution in frame structures.
He worked on heat, and attempted to derive Sadi Carnot's law from his own
hypothesis. His work was extended by Maxwell. Rankine also wrote on fatigue in the metal
of railway axles, on Earth pressures in soil mechanics and the stability of walls. He was
elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1853.
Among his most important works are Manual of Applied
Mechanics (1858), Manual of the Steam Engine and Other Prime Movers (1859) and On
the Thermodynamic Theory of Waves of Finite Longitudinal Disturbance .