VIII. THE CONSERVATION OF ENERGY

"Although it has been long known that fine platinum wire can be ignited by magneto-electricity, it still remained a matter of doubt whether heat was evolved by the COILS in which the magneto-electricity was generated; and it seemed indeed not unreasonable to suppose that COLD was produced there in order to make up for the heat evolved by the other part of the circuit. The author therefore has endeavored to clear up this uncertainty by experiment. His apparatus consisted of a small compound electro-magnet, immersed in water, revolving between the poles of a powerful stationary magnet. The magneto-electricity developed in the coils of the revolving electro-magnet was measured by an accurate galvanometer; and the temperature of the water was taken before and after each experiment by a very delicate thermometer. The influence of the temperature of the surrounding atmospheric air was guarded against by covering the revolving tube with flannel, etc., and by the adoption of a system of interpolation. By an extensive series of experiments with the above apparatus the author succeeded in proving that heat is evolved by the coils of the magneto-electrical machine, as well as by any other part of the circuit, in proportion to the resistance to conduction of the wire and the square of the current; the magneto having, under comparable circumstances, the same calorific power as the voltaic electricity.

"Professor Jacobi, of St. Petersburg, bad shown that the motion of an electro-magnetic machine generates magneto-electricity in opposition to the voltaic current of the battery. The author had observed the same phenomenon on arranging his apparatus as an electro-magnetic machine; but had found that no additional heat was evolved on account of the conflict of forces in the coil of the electro-magnet, and that the heat evolved by the coil remained, as before, proportional to the square of the current. Again, by turning the machine contrary to the direction of the attractive forces, so as to increase the intensity of the voltaic current by the assistance of the magneto-electricity, he found that the evolution of heat was still proportional to the square of the current. The author discovered, therefore, that the heat evolved by the voltaic current is invariably proportional to the square of the current, however the intensity of the current may be varied by magnetic induction. But Dr. Faraday has shown that the chemical effects of the current are simply as its quantity. Therefore he concluded that in the electro- magnetic engine a part of the heat due to the chemical actions of the battery is lost by the circuit, and converted into mechanical power; and that when the electro-magnetic engine is turned CONTRARY to the direction of the attractive forces, a greater quantity of heat is evolved by the circuit than is due to the chemical reactions of the battery, the over-plus quantity being produced by the conversion of the mechanical force exerted in turning the machine. By a dynamometrical apparatus attached to his machine, the author has ascertained that, in all the above cases, a quantity of heat, capable of increasing the temperature of a pound of water by one degree of Fahrenheit's scale, is equal to the mechanical force capable of raising a weight of about eight hundred and thirty pounds to the height of one foot."[2]

JOULE OR MAYER?

Two years later Joule wished to read another paper, but the chairman hinted that time was limited, and asked him to confine himself to a brief verbal synopsis of the results of his experiments. Had the chairman but known it, he was curtailing a paper vastly more important than all the other papers of the meeting put together. However, the synopsis was given, and one man was there to hear it who had the genius to appreciate its importance. This was William Thomson, the present Lord Kelvin, now known to all the world as among the greatest of natural philosophers, but then only a novitiate in science. He came to Joule's aid, started rolling the ball of controversy, and subsequently associated himself with the Manchester experimenter in pursuing his investigations.

But meantime the acknowledged leaders of British science viewed the new doctrine askance. Faraday, Brewster, Herschel—those were the great names in physics at that day, and no one of them could quite accept the new views regarding energy. For several years no older physicist, speaking with recognized authority, came forward in support of the doctrine of conservation. This culminating thought of the first half of the nineteenth century came silently into the world, unheralded and unopposed. The fifth decade of the century had seen it elaborated and substantially demonstrated in at least three different countries, yet even the leaders of thought did not so much as know of its existence. In 1853 Whewell, the historian of the inductive sciences, published a second edition of his history, and, as Huxley has pointed out, he did not so much as refer to the revolutionizing thought which even then was a full decade old.

By this time, however, the battle was brewing. The rising generation saw the importance of a law which their elders could not appreciate, and soon it was noised abroad that there were more than one claimant to the honor of discovery. Chiefly through the efforts of Professor Tyndall, the work of Mayer became known to the British public, and a most regrettable controversy ensued between the partisans of Mayer and those of Joule—a bitter controversy, in which Davy's contention that science knows no country was not always regarded, and which left its scars upon the hearts and minds of the great men whose personal interests were involved.