Energy, the Subtle Concept The discovery of Feynman's blocks from Leibniz to Einstein

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-08-13
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Energy is at the heart of physics and of huge importance to society and yet no book exists specifically to explain this elusive concept, and in simple, largely non-mathematical, terms. In tracking the history of energy and its discovery, this book explains the intellectual revolutions required to comprehend energy. Foundational texts by Descartes, Leibniz. Bernoulli. d'Alembert, Lagrange, Hamilton. Boltzmann, Clausius, Carnot, and others are made accessible, and the engines of Watt and Joule are examined.

Author Biography

Jennifer Coopersmith received her PhD in nuclear physics from the University of London, and was later a research fellow at TRIUMF, University of British Columbia. She was for many years an associate lecturer for the Open University (London and Oxford) honing her skills at answering those "damn-fool profound and difficult questions" that students ask. She currently does similar work on astrophysics courses for Swinburne University in Melbourne.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgementsp. x
List of Illustrationsp. xiii
Introduction: Feynman's Blocksp. 1
Perpetual Motionp. 5
Vis viva, the First 'Block' of Energyp. 14
Heat in the Seventeenth Centuryp. 46
Heat in the Eighteenth Centuryp. 63
The Discovery of Latent and Specific Heatsp. 78
A Hundred and One Years of Mechanics: Newton to Lagrangep. 91
A Tale of Two Countries: the Rise of the Steam Engine and the Caloric Theory of Heatp. 148
Rumford, Davy, and Youngp. 168
Naked Heat: the Gas Laws and the Specific Heats of Gasesp. 178
Two Contrasting Characters: Fourier and Herapathp. 201
Sadi Carnotp. 208
Hamilton and Greenp. 230
The Mechanical Equivalent of Heatp. 246
Faraday and Helmholtzp. 264
The Laws of Thermodynamics: Thomson and Clausiusp. 284
A Forward Lookp. 304
Impossible Things, Difficult Thingsp. 324
Conclusionsp. 350
Timelinep. 361
Questionsp. 367
Bibliographyp. 370
Notes and Referencesp. 371
Indexp. 395
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