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Replacing the language and concepts of classical mechanics with terms such as "actual" and "potential" energy, the North British group conducted their revolution in physics so astutely and vigorously that the concept of "energy"—a valuable commodity in the early days of industrialization—became their intellectual property. Smith skillfully places this revolution in its scientific and cultural context, exploring the actual creation of scientific knowledge during one of the most significant episodes in the history of physics.
Posted December 8, 1999
Crosbie Smith charts the rise of the concept of energy through the 19th century to its installation as the most important concept in science. His analysis is probably designed to upset some in that he frequently gives evidence that progress in science is as much to do with power-politics as it is to do with new and important scientific results. But most experienced scientists will know that, sadly, this analysis is accurate. Crosbie's analysis is detailed and stimulating because he is not afraid to put forward potentially controversial ideas. The book focuses on the endeavours of a North British group of scientists including Maxwell, Joule, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) and Tait. It is strongly recommended for anyone interested in the history of thermodynamics.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.