Five Scientific Papers

James Prescott JOULE

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JOULE, James Prescott. Five Scientific Papers: On the Mechanical Equivalent of Heat. BOUND WITH: On the Air-Engine. BOUND WITH: THOMSON, William and JOULE, J.P. On the Thermal Effects of Fluids in Motion. BOUND WITH: JOULE, J.P. and THOMSON, W. On the Thermal Effects of Fluids in Motion, Part II. BOUND WITH: Introductory Research on the Induction of Magnetism by Electrical Currents. London: Philosophical Transactions, 1849-55. Quarto, modern marbled paper wrappers. $3800.

First appearances of five important scientific papers by Joule—including his important 1850 paper "On the Mechanical Equivalent of Heat"—each extracted from the journal Philosophical Transactions where they originally appeared and bound together, complete with three engraved plates, one folding.

Joule, at only 22 years of age, established one of the most fundamental laws of electricity, a law that would later come to be known as Joule's law. He "demonstrated that the conversion of heat into force, and vice versa, takes place at a fixed rate. This discovery led to two conclusions: first, that heat is a form of energy; and second, that within a given system, the sum total of energy is both constant and convertible. Joule's work, along with that of Mayer and Helmholtz, was fundamental to the establishment of the principle of conservation of energy" (Norman 1179). At first Joule's work had a hard time finding wider acceptance, until it was taken up by the 22-year-old scientist William Thomson, the co-author with Joule on two of the papers in this collection.

Joule's pioneering work was "communicated" by Faraday to the Royal Society in June 1849 and published in Philosophical Transactions the same year Joule was elected to the Royal Society. The paper contains "his most precise value of the mechanical equivalent of heat, including the famous paddle-wheel experiment" (Morris, Great Experiments in Physics, 169). Joule concludes "1st. That the quantity of heat produced by the friction of bodies, whether solid or liquid, is always proportional to the quantity of force expended. And, 2nd. That the quantity of heat capable of increasing the temperature of a pound of water… by 1° FAHR., requires for its evolution the expenditure of a mechanical force represented by the fall of 772 lbs. through the space of one foot" (82). Currently the mechanical equivalent of heat has a value of 4.1868 joules per calorie, which represents the heat of water; a joule is work done when a force of 1 newton moves its point of application 1 meter in the direction of the force; a newton (N) is the unit of force being required to impart to a mass of 1 kg. an acceleration of 1m/sec² (1N=0.2248 pounds force).

"William Thomson's attention focused on Joule's claim to have shown the conversion of mechanical effect into heat in fluid friction. Before long, Thomson had devised a variant of Joule's paddle-wheel apparatus and was even considering the use of a steam engine to demonstrate in dramatic fashion the heating effects of fluid friction. For his part, Joule began work in the cellar of the brewery on a fresh set of results which Faraday communicated to the Royal Society on 21 June 1849. In 1850 'On the Mechanical Equivalent of Heat' appeared in the Philosophical Transactions; Joule was elected FRS in June of the same year… Eager for the reform of British physical science, William Thomson and a growing network of associates (including Macquorn Rankine, James Thomson, James Clerk Maxwell, and Peter Guthrie Tait) made Joule's results the foundation for the new doctrine of conservation of energy from the early 1850s" (ODNB).

This collection includes "On the Thermal Effects of Fluids in Motion," a two-part paper co-authored with William Thomson, with Part I appearing in 1853 and Part II in 1854—both parts present here. "In a series of famous experiments on the physical properties of gases (particularly when expanding through small orifices), Joule and Thomson sought to test the validity of 'Mayer's hypothesis' in the 1850s. Slight cooling effects, for example, were measured in the case of the expansion of air and carbonic acid, while slight heating effects were observed with hydrogen. These results were communicated to the Royal Society and published as 'On the Thermal Effects of Fluids in Motion' in the Philosophical Transactions (1853-54). Altogether Joule and Thomson published at least ten papers on their joint experimental researches up to the early 1860s" (ODNB).

This collection also includes Joule's 1851 paper "On the Air-Engine," and his 1855 paper "Introductory Research on the Induction of Magnetism by Electrical Currents." All papers excerpted from Philosophical Transactions where they originally appeared; with the original engraved illustrations published with the papers.

Fine condition.

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