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

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

Hardback 416 Pages / Published: 15/07/2010
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Energy is at the heart of physics (and of huge importance to society) and yet no book exists specifically to explain it, and in simple terms. In tracking the history of energy, this book is filled with the thrill of the chase, the mystery of smoke and mirrors, and presents a fascinating human-interest story. Moreover, following the history provides a crucial aid to understanding: this book explains the intellectual revolutions required to comprehend energy, revolutions as profound as those stemming from Relativity and Quantum Theory. 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 explained. Many fascinating questions are covered, 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 did the steam-engine evolve only in England? - Why S=klogW works and why temperature is IT. Using only a minimum of mathematics, this book explains the emergence of the modern concept of energy, in all its forms: Hamilton's mechanics and how it shaped twentieth-century physics, and the meaning of kinetic energy, potential energy, temperature, action, and entropy. It is as much an explanation of fundamental physics as a history of the fascinating discoveries that lie behind our knowledge today.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199546503
Number of pages: 416
Weight: 702 g
Dimensions: 220 x 144 x 31 mm

I am pleased to heartily recommend Coopersmiths readable, enjoyable, and largely nonmathematical yet profound account of the development of an important physical conceptenergy. 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... i Energy, the Subtle Conceptr 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. Weve 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 *

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