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Energy, the Subtle Concept – The discovery of Feynman's blocks from Leibniz to Einstein - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Energy, the Subtle Concept: The discovery of Feynman's blocks from Leibniz to Einstein

Jennifer Coopersmith


Energy is explained through its history. Newton missed ‘energy’, Leibniz defined kinetic energy, and potential energy emerged from ideas about stored ‘live force’, the concept of ‘work’, analyses of vibrating strings, the figure of the Earth, and so forth. The Principles of Virtual Work, Least Action, and D’Alembert underpinned Lagrange’s Analytical Mechanics. Daniel Bernoulli appreciated energy-in-the-round, and quantified the ‘live force’ in coal. Rumford’s experiments on canon-boring showed an ‘inexhaustible’ source of frictional heating, but didn’t immediately topple caloric theory. Claira ... More

Keywords: what is energy, thermodynamics, what is temperature, steam engines, the Hamiltonian, history of science, philosophy of science, principle of Least Action, E = mc2, global warming

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780198716747
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716747.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jennifer Coopersmith, author
Honorary Research Associate, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia