Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire

Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire

In the history of thermodynamics, "Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire and on Machines Fitted to Develop that Power" (French title: "Réflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu et sur les machines propres à développer cette puissance") is an 1824, 65-page book by French physicist Sadi Carnot on a generalized theory of heat engines and is considered the founding work in the science of thermodynamics. [Carnot (1890), Thurston's introduction.] In it is found the preliminary outline of the second law of thermodynamics, namely that motive power is due to the fall of caloric (heat) from a hot to cold body. The paper sat unnoticed until 1834 when French mining engineer Emile Clapeyron put in on a graphical footing in his "Memoir on the Motive Power of Heat". [Dover edition.] Through Clapeyron's paper, German physicist Rudolf Clausius learned of Carnot's theory of heat and through a modification of Carnot's suppositions on heat, Clausius put the second law in mathematical form with his introduction of the concept of entropy. [ Clausius, R. (1867). [ "The Mechanical Theory of Heat – with its Applications to the Steam Engine and to Physical Properties of Bodies"] . London: John van Voorst, 1 Paternoster Row. MDCCCLXVII.] By 1849, "thermo-dynamics", as a functional term, was used in William Thomson's paper "An Account of Carnot's Theory of the Motive Power of Heat." [Kelvin, William T. (1849) "An Account of Carnot's Theory of the Motive Power of Heat - with Numerical Results Deduced from Regnault's Experiments on Steam." "Transactions of the Edinburg Royal Society, XVI. January 2." [ Scanned Copy] ]

The "Reflections" contain a number of principles such as the Carnot cycle, the Carnot heat engine, Carnot theorem, thermodynamic efficiency, to name a few. Similar to how the "Reflections" was the precursor to the second law, English physicist James Joule's 1843 paper Mechanical equivalent of heat was the precursor to the first law of thermodynamics.



*cite book |title=Réflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu et sur les machines propres à développer cette puissance |last=Carnot |first=Sadi |authorlink=Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot |coauthors= |year=1824 |publisher=Bachelier |location=Paris |isbn= |pages= fr icon ( [ full text] )
*cite book |title=Reflections on the Motive Power of Heat and on Machines Fitted to Develop That Power |last=Carnot |first=Sadi |authorlink= |coauthors= Thurston, Robert Henry (editor and translator) |year=1890 |publisher=J. Wiley & Sons |location=New York |isbn= |pages= ( [ full text of 1897 ed.)] ) ( [ html] )
*cite book |title=Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire – and other Papers on the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Edited with an introduction by E. Mendoza |last=Carnot |first=Sadi |authorlink= |coauthors=E. Clapeyron; R. Clausius |year=2005 |edition= |publisher=Dover Publications |location=New York |isbn=0-486-44641-7 |pages=

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