The Science of Energy: A Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain

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University of Chicago Press, 1998 - History - 404 pages
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Although we take it for granted today, the concept of "energy" transformed nineteenth-century physics. In The Science of Energy, Crosbie Smith shows how a North British group of scientists and engineers, including James Joule, James Clerk Maxwell, William and James Thomson, Fleeming Jenkin, and P. G. Tait, developed energy physics to solve practical problems encountered by Scottish shipbuilders and marine engineers; to counter biblical revivalism and evolutionary materialism; and to rapidly enhance their own scientific credibility.

Replacing the language and concepts of classical mechanics with terms such as "actual" and "potential" energy, the North British group conducted their revolution in physics so astutely and vigorously that the concept of "energy"—a valuable commodity in the early days of industrialization—became their intellectual property. Smith skillfully places this revolution in its scientific and cultural context, exploring the actual creation of scientific knowledge during one of the most significant episodes in the history of physics.

 

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Contents

Scotlands Presbyterian Cultures
15
Recovering the Motive Power of Heat
31
Mr Joule of Manchester
53
1ac Joules representations of Amperes and Aepinuss theories
62
Constructing a Perfect Thermodynamic Engine
77
argument concerning motive power 1848
85
Everything in the Material World is Progressive
100
the New Physics and the New Cosmology
126
Thomson and Taits Treatise on Natural
192
the Natural Philosophy of James Clerk
211
Demons versus Dissipation
239
the Apparatus of the Market Place
268
Transforming Energy in the Late Nineteenth Century
288
Epilogue
307
Bibliography
356
Index
386

The Science of Thermodynamics
150
Territorial Controversy in
170

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About the author (1998)

Crosbie Smith is reader in History and Cultural Studies of Science and director of the Centre for History and Cultural Studies of Science at Rutherford College, University of Kent at Canterbury. He is coauthor of Energy and Empire: A Biographical Study of Lord Kelvin and coeditor of Making Space for Science: Territorial Themes in the Shaping of Knowledge.


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