Rankine, William John Macquorn (1820–1872),
British physicist and engineer. Rankine was one of the founders of the science of thermodynamics. In 1843 he published a paper on metal fatigue in railway axles that attracted the attention of physicists and railway engineers and brought about new methods of construction. He published in 1858 a Manual of Applied Mechanics that became a classic text for designing engineers and architects, and a year later he introduced a manual on the steam engine that was the first attempt at a systematic treatment of steam-engine theory.