A History of Science
Tome I
Tome II
Tome III Tome IV

Book 3, chapter VIII
The conservation of energy
Joule's paper of 1843
Meantime, in England, Joule was going on from one experimental demonstration to another, oblivious of his German competitors and almost as little noticed by his own countrymen. He read his first paper before the chemical section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1843, and no one heeded it in the least. It is well worth our while, however, to consider it at length. It bears the title, "On the Calorific Effects of Magneto-Electricity, and the Mechanical Value of Heat." The full text, as published in the Report of the British Association, is as follows:

"Although it has been long known that fine platinum wire can be ignited by magneto-electricity, it still remained a matter of doubt whether heat was evolved by the COILS in which the magneto-electricity was generated; and it seemed indeed not unreasonable to suppose that COLD was produced there in order to make up for the heat evolved by the other part of the circuit. The author therefore has endeavored to clear up this uncertainty by experiment. His apparatus consisted of a small compound electro-magnet, immersed in water, revolving between the poles of a powerful stationary magnet. The magneto-electricity developed in the coils of the revolving electro-magnet was measured by an accurate galvanometer; and the temperature of the water was taken before and after each experiment by a very delicate thermometer. The influence of the temperature of the surrounding atmospheric air was guarded against by covering the revolving tube with flannel, etc., and by the adoption of a system of interpolation. By an extensive series of experiments with the above apparatus the author succeeded in proving that heat is evolved by the coils of the magneto-electrical machine, as well as by any other part of the circuit, in proportion to the resistance to conduction of the wire and the square of the current; the magneto having, under comparable circumstances, the same calorific power as the voltaic electricity.

"Professor Jacobi, of St. Petersburg, bad shown that the motion of an electro-magnetic machine generates magneto-electricity in opposition to the voltaic current of the battery. The author had observed the same phenomenon on arranging his apparatus as an electro-magnetic machine; but had found that no additional heat was evolved on account of the conflict of forces in the coil of the electro-magnet, and that the heat evolved by the coil remained, as before, proportional to the square of the current. Again, by turning the machine contrary to the direction of the attractive forces, so as to increase the intensity of the voltaic current by the assistance of the magneto-electricity, he found that the evolution of heat was still proportional to the square of the current. The author discovered, therefore, that the heat evolved by the voltaic current is invariably proportional to the square of the current, however the intensity of the current may be varied by magnetic induction. But Dr. Faraday has shown that the chemical effects of the current are simply as its quantity. Therefore he concluded that in the electro- magnetic engine a part of the heat due to the chemical actions of the battery is lost by the circuit, and converted into mechanical power; and that when the electro-magnetic engine is turned CONTRARY to the direction of the attractive forces, a greater quantity of heat is evolved by the circuit than is due to the chemical reactions of the battery, the over-plus quantity being produced by the conversion of the mechanical force exerted in turning the machine. By a dynamometrical apparatus attached to his machine, the author has ascertained that, in all the above cases, a quantity of heat, capable of increasing the temperature of a pound of water by one degree of Fahrenheit's scale, is equal to the mechanical force capable of raising a weight of about eight hundred and thirty pounds to the height of one foot."[2]





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© Serge Jodra, 2006. - Reproduction interdite.