A study of the history of the early developments in the theory of the saturated adiabatic process reveals that the first quantitative formulation of both the dry- and the saturated-adiabatic cooling rates were given by the British physicist, William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin), in a paper read in 1862, although the first published analysis was presented in 1864 by a Swiss meteorologist, Reye. Reye's paper presents both the differential form and the exact integrated form of the reversible saturated adiabatic relationship, which thus attained its modern form at the moment of its first appearance. Reye also gave a very clear, though brief, discussion of the concepts of atmospheric stability of both dry and saturated layers. The papers of Hann (1874) and Hertz (1884), frequently misquoted as the original treatments of the saturated adiabatic theory, are thus shown to be secondary papers in the actual history of this important theory.

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