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Heat

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 04 December 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of scientific ideas about heat. As anyone who’s ever burnt their hand will testify – heat is a pretty commonplace concept. Cups of coffee cool down, microwaves reheat them, water boils at 100 degrees and freezes on cold winter nights.Behind the everyday experience of hot things lies a complex story of ideas spread across Paris, Manchester and particularly Glasgow. It’s a story of brewing vats and steam engines, of fridges, thermometers and the heat death of the universe. But most importantly, it was the understanding and harnessing of heat that helped make the modern world of industry, engineering and technology.With Simon Schaffer, Professor of History of Science at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Darwin College; Hasok Chang, Professor of Philosophy of Science at University College London and Joanna Haigh, Professor of Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College London

  • Further Reading

    Ben Marsden, Watt’s Perfect Engine: Steam and the Age of Invention (Icon, 2004)

    Crosbie Smith, The Science of Energy: Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain (Continuum International Publishing Group, 1998)

    D. S. L. Cardwell, From Watt to Clausius: the Rise of Thermodynamics in the Early Industrial Age (London: Heinemann, 1971)

    Hasok Chang, Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004)

    Robert Fox, The Caloric Theory of Gases from Lavoisier to Regnault (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971)

    Tom Shachtman, Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000)

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