With a never-before published paper by Lord Henry Cavendish, as well as a biography on him, this book offers a fascinating discourse on the rise of scientific attitudes and ways of knowing. A pioneering British physicist in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Cavendish was widely considered to be the first full-time scientist in the modern sense. Through the lens of this unique thinker and writer, this book is about the birth of modern science.
Profiles the eminent 18th century natural philosopher Henry Cavendish, best known for his work in chemistry and physics and one of the most baffling personalities in the history of science. In these chapters we are introduced to the psychology of science and of scientists and we learn about Cavendish’s life and times. His personality is examined from two perspectives: one is that he had a less severe form of autism, as has been claimed; the other is that he was eccentric and a psychological disorder was absent. Henry Cavendish lived a life of science, possibly more completely than any other figure in the history of science: a wealthy aristocrat, he became a dedicated scientist. This study brings new information and a new perspective to our understanding of the man. The scientific and non-scientific sides of his life are brought closer together, as the author traces topics including his appearance, speech, wealth, religion and death as well as Cavendish’s life of natural philosophy where objectivity and accuracy, writing and recognition all played a part. The author traces aspects of Cavendish’s personality, views and interpretations of him, and explores notions of eccentricity and autism before detailing relevant aspects of the travels made by our subject. The author considers the question “How do we talk about Cavendish?” and provides a useful summary of Cavendish’s travels. This book will appeal to a wide audience, from those interested in 18th century history or history of science, to those interested in incidences of autism in prominent figures from history. This volume contains ample relevant illustrations, several interesting appendices and it includes a useful index and bibliography.
Energy is at the heart of physics and of huge importance to society and yet no book exists specifically to explain it, and in simple terms. In tracking the history of energy, this book is filled with the thrill of the chase, the mystery of smoke and mirrors, and presents a fascinating human-interest story. Moreover, following the history provides a crucial aid to understanding: this book explains the intellectual revolutions required to comprehend energy, revolutions as profound as those stemming from Relativity and Quantum Theory. 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 explained. Many fascinating questions are covered, including: - Why just kinetic and potential energies - is one more fundamental than the other? - What are heat, temperature and action? - What is the Hamiltonian? - What have engines to do with physics? - Why did the steam-engine evolve only in England? - Why S=klogW works and why temperature is IT. Using only a minimum of mathematics, this book explains the emergence of the modern concept of energy, in all its forms: Hamilton's mechanics and how it shaped twentieth-century physics, and the meaning of kinetic energy, potential energy, temperature, action, and entropy. It is as much an explanation of fundamental physics as a history of the fascinating discoveries that lie behind our knowledge today.
In the Victorian era, James Watt became an iconic engineer, but in his own time he was also an influential chemist. Miller examines Watt’s illustrious engineering career in light of his parallel interest in chemistry, arguing that Watt’s conception of steam engineering relied upon chemical understandings.Part I of the book – Representations – examines the way James Watt has been portrayed over time, emphasizing sculptural, pictorial and textual representations from the nineteenth century. As an important contributor to the development of arguably the most important technology of industrialization, Watt became a symbol that many groups of thinkers were anxious to claim. Part II – Realities – focuses on reconstructing the unsung ‘chemical Watt’ instead of the lionized engineer.