Free Essay Example Dedicated to James Joule Prescott

Published: 2022-03-30
Free Essay Example Dedicated to James Joule Prescott
Type of paper:  Report
Categories: Physics
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1857 words
16 min read


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James had a great role in the establishment of the energy conservation or the thermodynamics' first law as being universal and also a principle in physics that is all pervasive. He was above average in the experimental task, and the place he had in thermodynamics' development cannot be debated. This paper presents a discussion scientific work of James Joule covering on his determination to establish on the mechanical demonstration of the conversion of work into heat through using the renowned paddle- wheel apparatus. The story revolving on the work of James Joule is purely on the uphill task against the critical and scientific set up of the unwillingness of admitting the wholesome evidence up to the moment it became hard to assume. The problems he had in reaching finding and publication of renowned journals regardless of his work's quality will continue to impact on the upcoming scientists and also the engineers of the present.


Outside the scopes of engineering and science, James Prescott Joule's name is not that very much familiar despite each packet of food purchased in the markets indicating on the value of energy on the contents in the SI unit known as the joule.

Figure 1: James Joule Prescott

However, the diehard of the ancient habits and unit that has superseded it, the calorie is still favored generally by the public (Chen, Goswami & Stefanakos, 2010). For example, it is very hard to hear of people talking about statements such as, 'many joules were present in the pudding.' Until the year 1853, the time when William Rankine came up with the terminologies potential energy and actual energy, Joule alone may not have known the term energy and also with its definition as a scientific type of quantity (Toyabe, Sagawa, Ueda, Muneyuki & Sano, 2010). Regardless of this, he identified calorie as being associated with the calorific theory touching on the heat. The caloric theory was acknowledged by close to all scientists during its time who by then was known as the natural philosophers. In fact, it is through this theory that James Joule played a major role in overturning and carrying out its replacement with the axiomatic type of principle that is today known as the conservation of energy or the thermodynamics' first law. This paper undertakes an exploration of the experiment on the mechanical demonstration of conversation of work into heat by James Joule with the precise focus paid to the paddle-wheel experiment.


As at present, it is not easy to give empathy with both the scientific and technical environments of the ancient scientist of the period of the ninetieth century. In a country such as the United Kingdom, for example, there was no rewarding of science-based degrees, and also there were qualifications professionally in the field of science (Toyabe, Sagawa, Ueda, Muneyuki & Sano, 2010). Just a small section of people from those who carried out the publication of scientific types of papers had gainful employment in the field of science. Joule himself performed many of his experiments in the cellar part of his house as a private person. However, the invention of the steam engine by James Watt in the late times of the eighteenth century became a motivating interest especially among the engineers about the primary technological principles.

Natural philosophy was categorized into 'finished category of sciences, (mechanics of Newton, optics, and planetary based astronomy) and 'progressive based sciences' (zoology, botany, geology, heat, physiology, chemistry, magnetism, and electricity) (Toyabe, Sagawa, Ueda, Muneyuki & Sano, 2010). Heat and electricity were considered as constituents of chemistry, and the thermal impacts were, on the other hand, believed to be as a result of the action of a subtle type of fluid known as caloric. The caloric was believed that its storage and transfer from one aspect to the other was possible in bodies.

The caloric theory touching on heat remained dominant during the eighteenth century and the very first half portions of the ninetieth century as well. On the virtual basis, each philosopher concurred with the idea that caloric was capable of passing from one object to another via the conduction and also its conservation happened during the process. This theory received the support of its credibility in the 'The Analytic Theory of Heat' by the mathematician from France and a scientist as well, James Fourier (1768 -1830) (Toyabe, Sagawa, Ueda, Muneyuki & Sano, 2010). The treatise of Fourier represented the mathematical tour de force that gave an introduction as it gave the solution of the equation of the heat conductivity by use of what is familiar as the Fourier series. The equation he devised was able to give the representation of the arbitrary based functions that might have had their discontinuities. Fourier made claims that in the presence of the thermal-based properties, a body's state and its form, he had the capacity of predicting the thermal state of that body at a given timeframe in the future. In this regard, he just finalized his studies scientifically on the heat. Despite the work of Fourier endowed with a lot of influence, it faced serious restrictions since it never factored the situation in which heat was used, and there was also the performance of mechanical work within an engine. Based on the big success of the steam engine in enhancing the industrial revolution, this indeed was very remarkable, inexplicable and also oversight role played by Fourier and his colleagues.

Around the period of the 1820s, just some few scientists had raised questions concerning the caloric theory. One of the renowned dissenters was the American military adventure and also a physician as well, Benjamin Thompson (1743 to 1814) or also the other hand popular as Count Rumford. Rumford leads a life that was considered as remarkable. He participated in the American War that led to independence, migrated to London and was received by King George III. He served for nine years as a minister in charge of the Bavarian army (Toyabe, Sagawa, Ueda, Muneyuki & Sano, 2010). Regardless of this, it was a popular experiment by the title 'cannon boring experiment' that led him to secure a place in the world of history. Rumford noted that frictional heat produced through boring of the cannon within the arsenal in the area of Munich was indeed unlimited. To prove this experiment, he put the cannon barrel in water by immersing it and through use of a blunt tool for boring; he established that the water took three hours to boil. After this, the argument he had was that this phenomenon of the limitless production of heat was not compatible with the caloric theory. The conclusion he made was that aspect that led to the production of this heat was indeed the motion. However, Rumford never made attempts in the calculation the 'mechanical equivalent of heat' (represented with J), and the description he gave was more of qualitative. On the contrary to this again, Joule computed through an approximation of the data contained in the original paper by Rumford. The conclusion Joule reached was 'the heat needed to raise an lb of water 10F will be same as force denoted by 1034 foot pounds' (Toyabe, Sagawa, Ueda, Muneyuki & Sano, 2010). The Paddle-Wheel ExperimentDescription of the ExperimentThe paddle-wheel experiment by Joule remains to be the most renowned experiments on the conservation of energy since it provided the most realist findings for the mechanical equivalent of heat (Young, 2015). The experiment was carried in Joule's cellar house and remained just to be itself as shown in the below figure 1. A cylindrical vessel that had water or mercury had its fitting with a paddle wheel that was rotating in between constant vanes located at the vertical axis. Two strings were driving the paddle with the assistance of a wound rounded on the shaft that covered the two pulleys attached to the weights that were falling. The determination of the work input was found as the weight's product and the fall distance linking the cellular floor of Joule (Young, 2015). The heat produced was got from the increase in temperature of water or mercury and the related metal connections. For the purposes of obtaining a quantifiable increment in the temperature ranging 0.5to 20F, the weights had to be wounded backward. The experiment has again repeated for close to twenty times as fast it could.

Figure 2: Assembled Apparatus of Joule's paddle-wheel Experiment

Important Findings

Joule performed a total of five series of experiments with the objective of determining the mechanical equivalent of heat. The first series entailed the brass paddle wheel that was rotating through the copper type of cylinder with water. The outcome of it was 772.692-foot-pounds per Btu. The second and the third series made use of a wrought type of iron paddle wheel through a cast iron cylinder that had mercury (Tchanche, Lambrinos, Frangoudakis & Papadakis, 2011). The results got were 772.814 and 775.352 in that order. The fourth and the fifth series also utilized mercury but entailed friction among the solids. Meanwhile, cast iron replaced the paddle wheel that contacted the wheel that was stationary. The values on average got after performing the tests stood at 776.045 and 773.930. By results showing consistency in them, it indeed proved on their validity despite a feeling that one may note that Joule was close to being less optimistic by proceeding to give values in six significant figures (Young, 2015). In his conclusions, Joule believed that the first series registered the most reliable. The conclusions that he made from the experiment are as stated below;

Heat quantity generated through friction between bodies even if it is a solid, gas or a liquid is dictated by the amount of force applied

Heat quantity capable of ensuring increment in temperature of water by a pound through a 1F0 needs the evolution of the expenditure through mechanical force represented by a decrement of 772lb via one-foot space. Implications of the FindingsFrom the work of Joule, he singled out the past on theory covering the heat dynamics that also include the experiment by Rumford on cannon boring. After this, he shifts to the description of the apparatus used in the experiment, beginning with the discussion linked with the thermometers' accuracy used in the measurement of the increase in the mercury of water's temperatures (Chodos, 2018). The experiments' success relied on the capability of acquiring accuracy in measurements of the changes in temperature of the 10F order. In this case, Joule made use of certain number dedicated to the thermometers. He attested that in practice, he could be in a position of reading the thermometers with plane eyes up to one-twentieth of a unit that in this case has a correspondence with 0.0050F. With the risk of giving criticism to the renowned experimentalist, this appears to be trifle optimistic.

A question that is still unanswered is whether the proposition concerning energy conservation and its association with heat and work is still needed by such precautious experiment and consistency of the findings (Tchanche, Lambrinos, Frangoudakis & Papadakis, 2011). The answer to this is that Joule at first ensured the third deduction but...

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