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Energy, the Subtle ConceptThe discovery of Feynman's blocks from Leibniz to Einstein$
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Jennifer Coopersmith

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716747

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716747.001.0001

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Rumford, Davy, and Young

Rumford, Davy, and Young

(p.163) 9 Rumford, Davy, and Young
Energy, the Subtle Concept

Jennifer Coopersmith

Oxford University Press

Benjamin Thompson (later Count Rumford), founder of the Royal Institution, designs experiments showing that an ‘inexhaustible’ quantity of heat is generated by friction when cannons are bored with an especially blunt borer. The caloric theory can’t explain this, but Rumford’s work isn’t taken up until Joule, 40 years later. Humphry Davy and the polymath Thomas Young endorse the motion theory of heat and are hired as lecturers at the Royal Institution. Young puts forward the idea that radiant heat and light are the same thing, waves, but at different frequencies; and William Herschel and Ritter discover heat and ultraviolet radiation, respectively. Other connections are noticed between heat, light, chemistry, electricity, and magnetism (e.g. in Volta’s pile, and the Seebeck and Peltier effects). Young uses the term ‘energy’ in his A Course of Lectures in Natural Philosophy.

Keywords:   Count Rumford, Benjamin Thompson, frictional heating, nature of light, Thomas Young, Humphry Davy, Seebeck, Peltier, Volta, William Herschel

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