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

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $42.36
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 24%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (7) from $42.36   
  • New (6) from $42.36   
  • Used (1) from $46.53   

Overview

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.

The book covers some seldom-answered questions, 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 was the steam engine discovered in just one place?

Why S=klogW works and why temperature is IT.

Which is better, the force- or the energy-picture?

The emergence of energy is shown to be, quite literally, a tale of 'smoke and mirrors', It is enlivened by biographical anecdotes and a sprinkling of cultural and philosophical asides.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The work is full of surprises, and some illuminating apercus. It makes one think about the subject in a new way - the connections made with dynamics, Hamilton and Lagrange are germane, and one never sees these in books on thermodynamics." --Sir Aaron Klug, Nobel laureate, President of the Royal Society 1995-2000

"I am pleased to heartily recommend Coopersmith's readable, enjoyable, and largely nonmathematical yet profound account of the development of an important physical concept - energy. With a vein of humor running throughout, it deals with an enormous compass of important topics seldom found elsewhere at this level. It should be of great interest and utility to students, both undergraduate and graduate, historians of science, and anyone interested in the concepts of energy and their evolution through time." --George B. Kauffman, Chemical & Engineering News

"In clear and engaging prose, Coopersmith shows how the modern understanding of energy was formulated, moving from the first documented discussions of simple machines and perpetual motion in ancient Greece, to the work of Gottfried Leibniz and other 17th-century thinkers, to Einstein's theory of relativity and beyond... Energy, the Subtle Concept is a fascinating read, both physicists and nonphysicists who want to learn more about the history of energy will enjoy it." --Lisa Crystal, Physics Today

"Coopersmith has been on a commendable personal journey to understand energy." --Colin Axon, Energy Group Newsletter

"The more I read this book, the more difficult it was to put it down ... [It] has a fascinating story to tell about the development of our understanding of energy as a physical quantity..." --Matt Chorley, Popular Science

"beautifully-written text ... Throughout, the book is sprinkled with anecdotes and, most importantly, insightful commentary, with a plethora of figures that assist the reader in digesting the concepts detailed." --Jay Wadhawan, University of Hull

"The conservation of energy is arguably the most important law in physics. But what exactly is being conserved? Are some forms of energy more fundamental than others? You will have to read the book to find out. Coopersmith sets out to answer such questions and to explain the concept of energy through the history of its discovery. This is neither a straightforward narrative nor one for the faint-hearted. Those not put off by the odd bit of mathematics, will be well-rewarded by dipping into this book." --Manjit Kumar, New Scientist

"This is a work of physics in substance and history in form. Energy, the Subtle Concept is as much concerned with physicists as with physics. Its scientific interest is matched by human interest. Jennifer Coopersmith deftly brings to life the people who made the science throughout its history." --Charles C. Gillispie, Professor of History of Science Emeritus, Princeton University

"This book makes me proud to be a physicist, for two reasons. First it is a tale of the giants of the past who contributed to our present understanding of energy, people whose astonishing intuition took them from gossamer clues to the understanding we have today of one of the most basic explanatory concepts in physics. We've had some pretty good players in our team. More than this - and this is the second reason - this is a story as much about invention as discovery ... I am sure all physicists would enjoy this book and indeed learn from it." --Australian Physics

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199546503
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/13/2010
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 996,678
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Coopersmith took 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.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgements

List of Illustrations

1 Introduction: Feynman's Blocks 1

2 Perpetual Motion 5

3 Vis viva, the First √°Block' of Energy 14

4 Heat in the Seventeenth Century 46

5 Heat in the Eighteenth Century 63

6 The Discovery of Latent and Specific Heats 78

7 A Hundred and One Years of Mechanics: Newton to Lagrange 91

8 A Tale of Two Countries: the Rise of Steam Engine and the Caloric Theory of Heat 148

9 Rumford, Davy, and Young 168

10 Naked Heat: the Gas Laws and the Specific Heats of Gases 178

11 Two Contrasting Characters: Fourier and Herapath 201

12 Sadi Carnot 208

13 Hamilton and Green 230

14 The Mechanical Equivalent of Heat 246

15 Faraday and Helmholtz 264

16 The Laws of Thermodynamics: Thomson and Clausius 284

17 A Forward Look 304

18 Impossible Things, Difficult Things 324

19 Conclusions 350

Appendix I Timeline 361

Appendix II Questions 367

Bibliography 370

Notes and References 371

Index 395

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)