When Physics Became King [NOOK Book]

Overview


As recently as two hundred years ago, physics as we know it today did not exist. Born in the early nineteenth century during the second scientific revolution, physics struggled at first to achieve legitimacy in the scientific community and culture at large. In fact, the term "physicist" did not appear in English until the 1830s.

When Physics Became King traces the emergence of this revolutionary science, demonstrating how a discipline that ...
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When Physics Became King

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Overview


As recently as two hundred years ago, physics as we know it today did not exist. Born in the early nineteenth century during the second scientific revolution, physics struggled at first to achieve legitimacy in the scientific community and culture at large. In fact, the term "physicist" did not appear in English until the 1830s.

When Physics Became King traces the emergence of this revolutionary science, demonstrating how a discipline that barely existed in 1800 came to be regarded a century later as the ultimate key to unlocking nature's secrets. A cultural history designed to provide a big-picture view, the book ably ties advances in the field to the efforts of physicists who worked to win social acceptance for their research.

Beginning his tale with the rise of physics from natural philosophy, Iwan Morus chronicles the emergence of mathematical physics in France and its later export to England and Germany. He then elucidates the links between physics and industrialism, the technology of statistical mechanics, and the establishment of astronomical laboratories and precision measurement tools. His tale ends on the eve of the First World War, when physics had firmly established itself in both science and society.

Scholars of both history and physics will enjoy this fascinating and studied look at the emergence of a major scientific discipline.
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Editorial Reviews

Nature
"This is a story about the ascendance of physics as viewed by the public and, more importantly, by government and industry. As Morus puts it, physics became 'the ultimate authority in nature'. It is a fascinating story, well told and mostly based on the latest research by professional historians of science."—Stephen G. Brush, Nature

— Stephen G. Brush

Physics World
"In a beautifully written and engaging synthesis, Morus sheds new light on familiar topics and people .... The result is by far the best history of 19th-century physics that is now available."—Jeff Hughes, Physics World

— Jeff Hughes

Contemporary Physics

"This delightfully written book traces the evolution of the subject from the relatively obscure world of 18th century Natural Philosophy to the end of the 19th century with Physics established as a University discipline requiring proper training, having a well-defined career structure, and imposing research obligations on working physicists....The book is informative, well structured and a joy to read. It ought to appeal not only to the relatively narrow audience of science historians, but to working physicists and to the general public."—A. Calogeracos, Contemporary Physics

— A. Calogeracos

American Scientist

"A masterfully written historical analysis. . . . The book, which fills most admirably a huge gap in the secondary literature, is a 'must read' for undergraduates. I also highly recommend it to historians of science and technology; to general historians, for the understanding it offers of the importance of physics to 19th-century economies and notions of nationalism; and to scientists, for the sense it provides of the importance of sociocultural context to scientific content."

— Myles W. Jackson

Physics Today

"Iwan Rhys Morus's excellent history of physics in the 19th century, When Physics Became King, considers the field in an age when physics and physicists came to play a prominent role in the culture. . . . A few good histories of physics during that remarkable age exist—but none as readable or comprehensive as Morus's superb book."—Robert M. Brain, Physics Today

— Robert M. Brian

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226542003
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author


Iwan Rhys Morus is a lecturer in the Department of History of Science at Queen’s University, Belfast. He is also coauthor of Making Modern Science, forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
1. Queen of the Sciences
2. A Revolutionary Science
3. The Romance of Nature
4. The Science of Showmanship
5. The Science of Work
6. Mysterious Fluids and Forces
7. Mapping the Heavens
8. Places of Precision
9. Imperial Physics
Notes
Bibliographic Essay
Index
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