By Bruce J. Hunt

In the 19th century, technology and expertise built an in depth and carrying on with courting. an important developments in physics -- the technological know-how of power and the idea of the electromagnetic box -- have been deeply rooted within the new applied sciences of the steam engine, the telegraph, and electrical strength and lightweight. Bruce J. Hunt the following explores how the major applied sciences of the economic age helped reshape glossy physics.

This interval marked a watershed in how people exerted energy over the realm round them. Sweeping adjustments in production, transportation, and communications remodeled the economic system, society, and lifestyle in methods by no means earlier than imagined. even as, actual scientists made nice strides within the learn of power, atoms, and electromagnetism. Hunt exhibits how expertise knowledgeable technology and vice versa, interpreting the interplay among steam know-how and the formula of the legislation of thermodynamics, for instance, and that among telegraphy and the increase of electric science.

Hunt's groundbreaking advent to the background of physics issues to the shift to atomic and quantum physics. It closes with a quick examine Albert Einstein's paintings on the Swiss patent place of work and the half it performed in his formula of relativity concept. Hunt interprets his often-demanding fabric into enticing and obtainable language compatible for undergraduate scholars of the heritage of technology and technology.

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On his return to Germany, he pestered his friends about it and called on local physics professors to explain his theory. Most had trouble taking him entirely seriously, especially when he told them he could raise the temperature of a bottle of water simply by shaking it. Mayer felt sure his idea of the indestructibility of “force” held the key to the deepest secrets of the universe, ranging from the efficiency of steam engines to the immortality of the soul. He tried to bolster his case with mathematical arguments, but his grasp of the subject was weak; in a letter to a friend, he once ended up trying to prove that 2 ϭ 0.

Perhaps that is why Carnot did not publish any further analyses of heat and work after his 1824 Reflexions: he may have realized that dropping the caloric theory would force him to recast much of his earlier argument, and it was not easy to see how this might be done. Certainly, questions about the status of caloric complicated the reception of Carnot’s theory of heat engines, for by the time other scientists began to take it up in the late 1840s, they, like him, had begun to think not in terms of caloric but of a broad new concept: energy.

He had studied Clapeyron’s essay while in Paris and searched without success for a copy of Carnot’s Reflexions, by then already rare. Thomson was convinced by Clapeyron’s account of Carnot’s theory and accepted the principle of the conservation of heat, though he was open to the growing evidence that caloric might not be a real substance. In 1848 he used Carnot’s theory to construct a new temperature scale based not on the expansion of mercury or any other substance, but on the principle that the fall of a given quantity of heat through each degree should produce an equal amount of work.

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