1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Energy
ENERGY (from the Gr. ἐνέργεια; ἐν, in, ἔργον, work), in physical science, a term which may be defined as accumulated mechanical work, which, however, may be only partially available for use. A bent spring possesses energy, for it is capable of doing work in returning to its natural form; a charge of gunpowder possesses energy, for it is capable of doing work in exploding; a Leyden jar charged with electricity possesses energy, for it is capable of doing work in being discharged. The motions of bodies, or of the ultimate parts of bodies, also involve energy, for stopping them would be a source of work.
All kinds of energy are ultimately measured in terms of work. If we raise 1 ℔ of matter through a foot we do a certain amount of work against the earth’s attraction; if we raise 2 ℔ through the same height we do twice this amount of work, and so on. Also, the work done in raising 1 ℔ through 2 ft. will be double of that done in raising it 1 ft. Thus we recognize that the work done varies as the resistance overcome and the distance through which it is overcome conjointly.
Now, we may select any definite quantity of work we please as our unit, as, for example, the work done in lifting a pound a foot high from the sea-level in the latitude of London, which is the unit of work generally adopted by British engineers, and is called the “foot-pound.” The most appropriate unit for scientific purposes is one which depends only on the fundamental units of length, mass and time, and is hence called an absolute unit. Such a unit is independent of gravity or of any other quantity which varies with the locality. Taking the centimetre, gramme and second as our fundamental units, the most convenient unit of force is that which, acting on a gramme for a second, produces in it a velocity of a centimetre per second; this is called a Dyne. The unit of work is that which is required to overcome a resistance of a dyne over a centimetre, and is called an Erg. In the latitude of Paris the dyne is equal to the weight of about 1981 of a gramme, and the erg is the amount of work required to raise 1981 of a gramme vertically through one centimetre.
Energy is the capacity for doing work. The unit of energy should therefore be the same as that of work, and the centimetre-gramme-second (C.G.S.) unit of energy is the erg.
The forms of energy which are most readily recognized are of course those in which the energy can be most directly employed in doing mechanical work; and it is manifest that masses of matter which are large enough to be seen and handled are more readily dealt with mechanically than are smaller masses. Hence when useful work can be obtained from a system by simply connecting visible portions of it by a train of mechanism, such energy is more readily recognized than is that which would compel us to control the behaviour of molecules before we could transform it into useful work. This leads up to the fundamental distinction, introduced by Lord Kelvin, between “available energy,” which we can turn to mechanical effect, and “diffuse energy,” which is useless for that purpose.
The conception of work and of energy was originally derived from observation of purely mechanical phenomena, that is to say, phenomena in which the relative positions and motions of visible portions of matter were all that were taken into consideration. Hence it is not surprising that, in those more subtle forms in which energy cannot be readily or completely converted into work, the universality of the principle of energy, its conservation, as regards amount, should for a long while have escaped recognition after it had become familiar in pure dynamics.
If a pound weight be suspended by a string passing over pulley, in descending through 10 ft. it is capable of raising nearly a pound weight attached to the other end of the string, through the same height, and thus can do nearly 10 foot-pounds of work. The smoother we make the pulley the more nearly does the amount of useful work which the weight is capable of doing approach 10 foot-pounds, and if we take into account the work done against the friction of the pulley, we may say that the work done by the descending weight is 10 foot-pounds, and hence when the weight is in its elevated position we have at disposal 10 foot-pounds more energy than when it is in the lower position. It should be noticed, however, that this energy is possessed by the system consisting of the earth and pound together, in virtue of their separation, and that neither could do work without the other to attract it. The system consisting of the earth and the pound therefore possesses an amount of energy which depends on the relative positions of its two parts, on account of the latent physical connexion existing between them. In most mechanical systems the working stresses acting between the parts can be determined when the relative positions of all the parts are known; and the energy which a system possesses in virtue of the relative positions of its parts, or its configuration, is classified as “potential energy,” to distinguish it from energy of motion which we shall presently consider. The word potential does not imply that this energy is not real; it exists in potentiality only in the sense that it is stored away in some latent manner; but it can be drawn upon without limit for mechanical work.
It is a fundamental result in dynamics that, if a body be projected vertically upwards in vacuo, with a velocity of v centimetres per second, it will rise to a height of v2/2g centimetres, where g represents the numerical value of the acceleration produced by gravity in centimetre-second units. Now, if m represent the mass of the body in grammes its weight will be mg dynes, for it will require a force of mg dynes to produce in it the acceleration denoted by g. Hence the work done in raising the mass will be represented by mg·v2/2g, that is, 12mv2 ergs. Now, whatever be the direction in which a body is moving, a frictionless constraint, like a string attached to the body, can cause its velocity to be changed into the vertical direction without any change taking place in the magnitude of the velocity. Thus it is merely in virtue of the velocity that the mass is capable of rising against the resistance of gravity, and hence we recognize that on account of its motion the body possessed 12mv2 units of energy. Energy of motion is usually called “kinetic energy.”
A simple example of the transformation of kinetic energy into potential energy, and vice versa, is afforded by the pendulum. When at the limits of its swing, the pendulum is for an instant at rest, and all the energy of the oscillation is static or potential. When passing through its position of equilibrium, since gravity can do no more work upon it without changing its fixed point of support, all the energy of oscillation is kinetic. At intermediate positions the energy is partly kinetic and partly potential.
Available kinetic energy is possessed by a system of two or more bodies in virtue of the relative motion of its parts. Since our conception of velocity is essentially relative, it is plain that any property possessed by a body in virtue of its motion can be effectively possessed by it only in relation to those bodies with respect to which it is moving. If a body whose mass is m grammes be moving with a velocity of v centimetres per second relative to the earth, the available kinetic energy possessed by the system is 12mv2 ergs if m be small relative to the earth. But if we consider two bodies each of mass m and one of them moving with velocity v relative to the other, only 14mv2 units of work is available from this system alone. Thus the estimation of kinetic energy is intimately affected by the choice of our base of measurement.
When the stresses acting between the parts of a system depend only on the relative positions of those parts, the sum of the kinetic energy and potential energy of the system is always the same, provided the system be not acted upon by anything outside it. Such a system is called “conservative,” and is well illustrated by the swinging pendulum above referred to. But there are stresses which depend on the relative motion of the visible bodies between which they appear to act. When work is done against these forces no full equivalent of potential energy may be produced; this applies especially to frictional forces, for if the motion of the system be reversed the forces will be also reversed and will still oppose the motion. It was long believed that work done against such forces was lost, and it was not till the 19th century that the energy thus transformed was traced; the conservation of energy has become the master-key to unlock the connexions in inanimate nature.
It was pointed out by Thomson (Lord Kelvin) and P. G. Tait that Newton had divined the principle of the conservation of energy, so far as it belongs purely to mechanics. But what became of the work done against friction and such non-conservative forces remained obscure, while the chemical doctrine that heat was an indestructible substance afterwards led to the idea that it was lost. There was, however, even before Newton’s time, more than a suspicion that heat was a form of energy. Francis Bacon expressed his conviction that heat consists of a kind of motion or “brisk agitation” of the particles of matter. In the Novum Organum, after giving a long list of the sources of heat, he says: “From these examples, taken collectively as well as singly, the nature whose limit is heat appears to be motion.... It must not be thought that heat generates motion or motion heat (though in some respects this is true), but the very essence of heat, or the substantial self of heat, is motion and nothing else.”
After Newton’s time the first vigorous effort to restore the universality of the doctrine of energy was made by Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, and was published in the Phil. Trans. for 1798. Rumford was engaged in superintending the boring of cannon in the military arsenal at Munich, and was struck by the amount of heat produced by the action of the boring bar upon the brass castings. In order to see whether the heat came out of the chips he compared the capacity for heat of the chips abraded by the boring bar with that of an equal quantity of the metal cut from the block by a fine saw, and obtained the same result in the two cases, from which he concluded that “the heat produced could not possibly have been furnished at the expense of the latent heat of the metallic chips.”
Rumford then turned up a hollow cylinder which was cast in one piece with a brass six-pounder, and having reduced the connexion between the cylinder and cannon to a narrow neck of metal, he caused a blunt borer to press against the hollow of the cylinder with a force equal to the weight of about 10,000 ℔, while the casting was made to rotate in a lathe. By this means the mean temperature of the brass was raised through about 70° Fahr., while the amount of metal abraded was only 837 grains.
In order to be sure that the heat was not due to the action of the air upon the newly exposed metallic surface, the cylinder and the end of the boring bar were immersed in 18.77 ℔ of water contained in an oak box. The temperature of the water at the commencement of the experiment was 60° Fahr., and after two horses had turned the lathe for 212 hours the water boiled. Taking into account the heat absorbed by the box and the metal, Rumford calculated that the heat developed was sufficient to raise 26.58 ℔ of water from the freezing to the boiling point, and in this calculation the heat lost by radiation and conduction was neglected. Since one horse was capable of doing the work required, Rumford remarked that one horse can generate heat as rapidly as nine wax candles burning in the ordinary manner.
Finally, Rumford reviewed all the sources from which the heat might have been supposed to be derived, and concluded that it was simply produced by the friction, and that the supply was inexhaustible. “It is hardly necessary to add,” he remarks, “that anything which any insulated body or system of bodies can continue to furnish without limitation cannot possibly be a material substance; and it appears to me to be extremely difficult, if not quite impossible, to form any distinct idea of anything capable of being excited and communicated in the manner that heat was excited and communicated in these experiments, except it be motion.”
About the same time Davy showed that two pieces of ice could be melted by rubbing them together in a vacuum, although everything surrounding them was at a temperature below the freezing point. He did not, however, infer that since the heat could not have been supplied by the ice, for ice absorbs heat in melting, this experiment afforded conclusive proof against the substantial nature of heat.
Though we may allow that the results obtained by Rumford and Davy demonstrate satisfactorily that heat is in some way due to motion, yet they do not tell us to what particular dynamical quantity heat corresponds. For example, does the heat generated by friction vary as the friction and the time during which it acts, or is it proportional to the friction and the distance through which the rubbing bodies are displaced—that is, to the work done against friction—or does it involve any other conditions? If it can be shown that, however the duration and all other conditions of the experiment may be varied, the same amount of heat can in the end be always produced when the same amount of energy is expended, then, and only then, can we infer that heat is a form of energy, and that the energy consumed has been really transformed into heat. This was left for J. P. Joule to achieve; his experiments conclusively prove that heat and energy are of the same nature, and that all other forms of energy can be transformed into an equivalent amount of heat.
The quantity of energy which, if entirely converted into heat, is capable of raising the temperature of the unit mass of water from 0° C. to 1° C. is called the mechanical equivalent of heat. One of the first who took in hand the determination of the mechanical equivalent of heat was Marc. Séguin, a nephew of J. M. Montgolfier. He argued that, if heat be energy, then, when it is employed in doing work, as in a steam-engine, some of the heat must itself be consumed in the operation. Hence he inferred that the amount of heat given up to the condenser of an engine when the engine is doing work must be less than when the same amount of steam is blown through the engine without doing any work. Séguin was unable to verify this experimentally, but in 1857 G. A. Hirn succeeded, not only in showing that such a difference exists, but in measuring it, and hence determining a tolerably approximate value of the mechanical equivalent of heat. In 1839 Séguin endeavoured to determine the mechanical equivalent of heat from the loss of heat suffered by steam in expanding, assuming that the whole of the heat so lost was consumed in doing external work against the pressure to which the steam was exposed. This assumption, however, cannot be justified, because it neglected to take account of work which might possibly have to be done within the steam itself during the expansion.
In 1842 R. Mayer, a physician at Heilbronn, published an attempt to determine the mechanical equivalent of heat from the heat produced when air is compressed. Mayer made an assumption the converse of that of Séguin, asserting that the whole of the work done in compressing the air was converted into heat, and neglecting the possibility of heat being consumed in doing work within the air itself or being produced by the transformation of internal potential energy. Joule afterwards proved (see below) that Mayer’s assumption was in accordance with fact, so that his method was a sound one as far as experiment was concerned; and it was only on account of the values of the specific heats of air at constant pressure and at constant volume employed by him being very inexact that the value of the mechanical equivalent of heat obtained by Mayer was very far from the truth.
Passing over L. A. Colding, who in 1843 presented to the Royal Society of Copenhagen a paper entitled “Theses concerning Force,” which clearly stated the “principle of the perpetuity of energy,” and who also performed a series of experiments for the purpose of determining the heat developed by the compression of various bodies, which entitle him to be mentioned among the founders of the modern theory of energy, we come to Dr James Prescott Joule of Manchester, to whom we are indebted more than to any other for the establishment of the principle of the conservation of energy on the broad basis on which it has since stood. The best-known of Joule’s experiments was that in which a brass paddle consisting of eight arms rotated in a cylindrical vessel of water containing four fixed vanes, which allowed the passage of the arms of the paddle but prevented the water from rotating as a whole. The paddle was driven by weights, and the temperature of the water was observed by thermometers which could indicate 1200th of a degree Fahrenheit. Special experiments were made to determine the work done against resistances outside the vessel of water, which amounted to about .006 of the whole, and corrections were made for the loss of heat by radiation, the buoyancy of the air affecting the descending weights, and the energy dissipated when the weights struck the floor with a finite velocity. From these experiments Joule obtained 72.692 foot-pounds in the latitude of Manchester as equivalent to the amount of heat required to raise 1 ℔ of water through 1° Fahr, from the freezing point. Adopting the centigrade scale, this gives 1390.846 foot-pounds.
With an apparatus similar to the above, but smaller, made of iron and filled with mercury, Joule obtained results varying from 772.814 foot-pounds when driving weights of about 58 ℔ were employed to 775.352 foot-pounds when the driving weights were only about 1912 ℔. By causing two conical surfaces of cast-iron immersed in mercury and contained in an iron vessel to rub against one another when pressed together by a lever, Joule obtained 776.045 foot-pounds for the mechanical equivalent of heat when the heavy weights were used, and 774.93 foot-pounds with the small driving weights. In this experiment a great noise was produced, corresponding to a loss of energy, and Joule endeavoured to determine the amount of energy necessary to produce an equal amount of sound from the string of a violoncello and to apply a corresponding correction.
The close agreement between the results at least indicates that “the amount of heat produced by friction is proportional to the work done and independent of the nature of the rubbing surfaces.” Joule inferred from them that the mechanical equivalent of heat is probably about 772 foot-pounds, or, employing the centigrade scale, about 1390 foot-pounds.
Previous to determining the mechanical equivalent of heat by the most accurate experimental method at his command, Joule established a series of cases in which the production of one kind of energy was accompanied by a disappearance of some other form. In 1840 he showed that when an electric current was produced by means of a dynamo-magneto-electric machine the heat generated in the conductor, when no external work was done by the current, was the same as if the energy employed in producing the current had been converted into heat by friction, thus showing that electric currents conform to the principle of the conservation of energy, since energy can neither be created nor destroyed by them. He also determined a roughly approximate value for the mechanical equivalent of heat from the results of these experiments. Extending his investigations to the currents produced by batteries, he found that the total voltaic heat generated in any circuit was proportional to the number of electrochemical equivalents electrolysed in each cell multiplied by the electromotive force of the battery. Now, we know that the number of electrochemical equivalents electrolysed is proportional to the whole amount of electricity which passed through the circuit, and the product of this by the electromotive force of the battery is the work done by the latter, so that in this case also Joule showed that the heat generated was proportional to the work done.
In 1844 and 1845 Joule published a series of researches on the compression and expansion of air. A metal vessel was placed in a calorimeter and air forced into it, the amount of energy expended in compressing the air being measured. Assuming that the whole of the energy was converted into heat, when the air was subjected to a pressure of 21.5 atmospheres Joule obtained for the mechanical equivalent of heat about 824.8 foot-pounds, and when a pressure of only 10.5 atmospheres was employed the result was 796.9 foot-pounds.
In the next experiment the air was compressed as before, and then allowed to escape through a long lead tube immersed in the water of a calorimeter, and finally collected in a bell jar. The amount of heat absorbed by the air could thus be measured, while the work done by it in expanding could be readily calculated. In allowing the air to expand from a pressure of 21 atmospheres to that of 1 atmosphere the value of the mechanical equivalent of heat obtained was 821.89 foot-pounds. Between 10 atmospheres and 1 it was 815.875 foot-pounds, and between 23 and 14 atmospheres 761.74 foot-pounds.
But, unlike Mayer and Séguin, Joule was not content with assuming that when air is compressed or allowed to expand the heat generated or absorbed is the equivalent of the work done and of that only, no change being made in the internal energy of the air itself when the temperature is kept constant. To test this two vessels similar to that used in the last experiment were placed in the same calorimeter and connected by a tube with a stop-cock. One contained air at a pressure of 22 atmospheres, while the other was exhausted. On opening the stop-cock no work was done by the expanding air against external forces, since it expanded into a vacuum, and it was found that no heat was generated or absorbed. This showed that Mayer’s assumption was true. On repeating the experiment when the two vessels were placed in different calorimeters, it was found that heat was absorbed by the vessel containing the compressed air, while an equal quantity of heat was produced in the calorimeter containing the exhausted vessel. The heat absorbed was consumed in giving motion to the issuing stream of air, and was reproduced by the impact of the particles on the sides of the exhausted vessel. The subsequent researches of Dr Joule and Lord Kelvin (Phil. Trans., 1853, p. 357, 1854, p. 321, and 1862, p. 579) showed that the statement that no internal work is done when a gas expands or contracts is not quite true, but the amount is very small in the cases of those gases which, like oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, can only be liquefied by intense cold and pressure.
For a long time the final result deduced by Joule by these varied and careful investigations was accepted as the standard value of the mechanical equivalent of heat. Recent determinations by H. A. Rowland and others, necessitated by modern requirements, have shown that it is in error, but by less than 1%. The writings of Joule, which thus occupy the place of honour in the practical establishment of the conservation of energy, have been collected into two volumes published by the Physical Society of London. On the theoretical side the greatest stimulus came from the publication in 1847, without knowledge of Mayer or Joule, of Helmholtz’s great memoir, Über die Erhaltung der Kraft, followed immediately (1848–1852) by the establishment of the science of thermodynamics (q.v.), mainly by R. Clausius and Lord Kelvin on the basis of “Carnot’s principle” (1824), modified in expression so as to be consistent with the conservation of energy (see Energetics).
Though we can convert the whole of the energy possessed by any mechanical system into heat, it is not in our power to perform the inverse operation, and to utilize the whole of the heat in doing mechanical work. Thus we see that different forms of energy are not equally valuable for conversion into work. The ratio of the portion of the energy of a system which can under given conditions be converted into mechanical work to the whole amount of energy operated upon may be called the “availability” of the energy. If a system be removed from all communication with anything outside of itself, the whole amount of energy possessed by it will remain constant, but will of its own accord tend to undergo such transformations as will diminish its availability. This general law, known as the principle of the “dissipation of energy,” was first adequately pointed out by Lord Kelvin in 1852; and was applied by him to some of the principal problems of cosmical physics. Though controlling all phenomena of which we have any experience, the principle of the dissipation of energy rests on a very different foundation from that of the conservation of energy; for while we may conceive of no means of circumventing the latter principle, it seems that the actions of intelligent beings are subject to the former only in consequence of the rudeness of the machinery which they have at their disposal for controlling the behaviour of those ultimate portions of matter, in virtue of the motions or positions of which the energy with which they have to deal exists. If we have a weight capable of falling through a certain distance, we can employ the mutual forces of the system consisting of the earth and weight to do an amount of useful work which is less than the full amount of potential energy possessed by the system only in consequence of the friction of the constraints, so that the limit of availability in this case is determined only by the friction which is unavoidable. Here we have to deal with a transformation with which we can grapple, and which can be controlled for our purposes. If, on the other hand, we have to deal with a system of molecules of whose motions in the aggregate we become conscious only by indirect means, while we know absolutely nothing either of the motions or positions of any individual molecule, it is obvious that we cannot grasp single molecules and control their movements so as to derive the full amount of work from the system. All we can do in such cases is to place the system under certain conditions of transformation, and be content with the amount of work which it is, as it were, willing to render up under those conditions. Thus the principle of Carnot involves the conclusion that a greater proportion of the heat possessed by a body at a high temperature can be converted into work than in the case of an equal quantity of heat possessed by a body at a low temperature, so that the availability of heat increases with the temperature.
Clerk Maxwell supposed two compartments, A and B, to be filled with gas at the same temperature, and to be separated by an ideal, infinitely thin partition containing a number of exceedingly small trap-doors, each of which could be opened or closed without any expenditure of energy. An intelligent creature, or “demon,” possessed of unlimited powers of vision, is placed in charge of each door, with instructions to open the door whenever a particle in A comes towards it with more than a certain velocity V, and to keep it closed against all particles in A moving with less than this velocity, but, on the other hand, to open the door whenever a particle in B approaches it with less than a certain velocity v, which is not greater than V, and to keep it closed against all particles in B moving with a greater velocity than this. By continuing this process every unit of mass which enters B will carry with it more energy than each unit which leaves B, and hence the temperature of the gas in B will be raised and that of the gas in A lowered, while no heat is lost and no energy expended; so that by the application of intelligence alone a portion of gas of uniform pressure and temperature may be sifted into two parts, in which both the temperature and the pressure are different, and from which, therefore, work can be obtained at the expense of heat. This shows that the principle of the dissipation of energy has control over the actions of those agents only whose faculties are too gross to enable them to grapple individually with the minute portions of matter which are the seat of energy.
In 1875 Lord Rayleigh published an investigation on “the work which may be gained during the mixing of gases.” In the preface he states the position that “whenever, then, two gases are allowed to mix without the performance of work, there is dissipation of energy, and an opportunity of doing work at the expense of low temperature heat has been for ever lost.” He shows that the amount of work obtainable is equal to that which can be done by the first gas in expanding into the space occupied by the second (supposed vacuous) together with that done by the second in expanding into the space occupied by the first. In the experiment imagined by Lord Rayleigh a porous diaphragm takes the place of the partition and trap-doors imagined by Clerk Maxwell, and the molecules sort themselves automatically on account of the difference in their average velocities for the two gases. When the pressure on one side of the diaphragm thus becomes greater than that on the other, work may be done at the expense of heat in pushing the diaphragm, and the operation carried on with continual gain of work until the gases are uniformly diffused. There is this difference, however, between this experiment and the operation imagined by Maxwell, that when the gases have diffused the experiment cannot be repeated; and it is no more contrary to the dissipation of energy than is the fact that work may be derived at the expense of heat when a gas expands into a vacuum, for the working substance is not finally restored to its original condition; while Maxwell’s “demons” may operate without limit.
In such experiments the molecular energy of a gas is converted into work only in virtue of the molecules being separated into classes in which their velocities are different, and these classes then allowed to act upon one another through the intervention of a suitable heat-engine. This sorting can occur spontaneously to a limited extent; while if we could carry it out as far as we pleased we might transform the whole of the heat of a body into work. The theoretical availability of heat is limited only by our power of bringing those particles whose motions constitute heat in bodies to rest relatively to one another; and we have precisely similar practical limits to the availability of the energy due to the motion of visible and tangible bodies, though theoretically we can then trace all the stages.
If a battery of electromotive force E maintain a current C in a conductor, and no other electromotive force exist in the circuit, the whole of the work done will be converted into heat, and the amount of work done per second will be EC. If R denote the resistance of the whole circuit, E = CR, and the heat generated per second is C2R. If the current drive an electromagnetic engine, the reaction of the engine will produce an electromotive force opposing the current. Suppose the current to be thus reduced to C′. Then the work done by the battery per second will be EC′ or CC′R, while the heat generated per second will be C’2R, so that we have the difference (C - C′)C′R for the energy consumed in driving the engine. The ratio of this to the whole work done by the battery is (C - C′)/C, so that the efficiency is increased by diminishing C′. If we could drive the engine so fast as to reduce C′ to zero, the whole of the energy of the battery would be available, no heat being produced in the wires, but the horse-power of the engine would be indefinitely small. The reason why the whole of the energy of the current is not available is that heat must always be generated in a wire in which a finite current is flowing, so that, in the case of a battery in which the whole of the energy of chemical affinity is employed in producing a current, the availability of the energy is limited only on account of the resistance of the conductors, and may be increased by diminishing this resistance. The availability of the energy of electrical separation in a charged Leyden jar is also limited only by the resistance of conductors, in virtue of which an amount of heat is necessarily produced, which is greater the less the time occupied in discharging the jar. The availability of the energy of magnetization is limited by the coercive force of the magnetized material, in virtue of which any change in the intensity of magnetization is accompanied by the production of heat.
In all cases there is a general tendency for other forms of energy to be transformed into heat on account of the friction of rough surfaces, the resistance of conductors, or similar causes, and thus to lose availability. In some cases, as when heat is converted into the kinetic energy of moving machinery or the potential energy of raised weights, there is an ascent of energy from the less available form of heat to the more available form of mechanical energy, but in all cases this is accompanied by the transfer of other heat from a body at a high temperature to one at a lower temperature, thus losing availability to an extent that more than compensates for the rise.
It is practically important to consider the rate at which energy may be transformed into useful work, or the horse-power of the agent. It generally happens that to obtain the greatest possible amount of work from a given supply of energy, and to obtain it at the greatest rate, are conflicting interests. We have seen that the efficiency of an electromagnetic engine is greatest when the current is indefinitely small, and then the rate at which it works is also indefinitely small. M. H. von Jacobi showed that for a given electromotive force in the battery the horse-power is greatest when the current is reduced to one-half of what it would be if the engine were at rest. A similar condition obtains in the steam-engine, in which a great rate of working necessitates the dissipation of a large amount of energy. (W. G.; J. L.*)