Who discovered the laws of thermodynamics? ?
Possibly the most significant early figure was Count Rumford, (Benjamin Thompson) an unscrupulous scoundrel who married (and divorced) Lavoisier's widow.
Count Rumford's contribution effectively dismissed the idea of caloric as heat, and showed that mechanical action can generate indefinite amounts of heat. Sadi Carnot and Rudolf Clausius developed these principles, and formalized laws of thermodynamics. The later towering intellect was, however, Josiah Willard Gibbs, an American chemist/physicist and Yale graduate and professor, who stated unequivocally the first two laws of thermodynamics, and whose Gibbs Free Energy is still widely used today. Gibbs developed with Ludwig Boltzmann and James Maxwell the field of statistical mechanics.