9780226764207

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

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780226764207

  • ISBN10:

    0226764206

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1999-02-26
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
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Summary

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 industrializationbecame 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.

Author Biography

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.


Table of Contents

List of Figures
viii
Preface ix
Abbreviations xii
Introduction: a History of Energy
1(14)
From Design to Dissolution: Scotland's Presbyterian Cultures
15(16)
Recovering the Motive Power of Heat
31(22)
Mr Joule of Manchester
53(24)
Constructing a Perfect Thermo-dynamic Engine
77(23)
`Everything in the Material World is Progressive'
100(26)
`The Epoch of Energy': the New Physics and the New Cosmology
126(24)
The Science of Thermodynamics
150(20)
North Britain versus Metropolis: Territorial Controversy in the History of Energy
170(22)
Newton Reinvented: Thomson and Tait's Treatise on Natural Philosophy
192(19)
Gentleman of Energy: the Natural Philosophy of James Clerk Maxwell
211(28)
Demons versus Dissipation
239(29)
Energy and Electricity: `the Apparatus of the Market Place'
268(20)
Sequel: Transforming Energy in the Late Nineteenth Century
288(19)
Epilogue 307(8)
Notes 315(41)
Bibliography 356(30)
Index 386

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