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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/230

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Thompson (Count Rumford) not only weighed "caloric" literally in the balance and found it wanting, but made that memorable experiment in the Munich foundries which showed that heat was perpetually and without limit created from motion.

It was in the last years of the century, too, that he provided for the medal called by his name, and which, though to be given for researches in heat and light, has, I believe, been allotted in nearly every instance to men who, like Leslie, Mains, Davy, Brewster, Fresnel, Melloni, Faraday, Arago, Stokes, Maxwell, and Tyndall, have contributed toward the subject of radiant energy in particular.

We observe that till Rumford's time the scientific literature of the century scarcely considers the idea even of radiant heat, still less of radiant energy; so that we have been obliged here to discuss the views of its physicists about heat in general, heat and light in most eighteenth-century minds being distinct entities. We must remember, then, to his greater honor, that the idea of radiant heat as a separate study has before Rumford scarcely an existence; all the ways for pilgrims to this special shrine of truth being barred, like those in Bunyan's allegory, by two unfriendly monsters who are called Phlogiston and Caloric, so that there are few scientific pilgrims who do not pay them toll.

The doctrine of caloric is, however, even then recognized as a chemical hypothesis rather than one acceptable to physicists, some of whom still stand out for vibratory theories even through the darkest years of the century; and, further, we may find, on strict search, that the old idea of heat as a mode of motion has not so utterly died that it does not appear here and there during the last century, not only among philosophers, but even in a popular form.

In an old English translation of Father Regnault's compilation on physics, dated about 1730, I find the most explicit statement of the doctrine of heat as a mode of motion. Here heat is defined (with the aid of a simile due, I believe, to Boyle) as "any Agitation whatever of the insensible parts. Thus a Nail which is drove into the Wood by the stroke of a Hammer does not appear to be hot, because its immediate parts have but one common Movement. But should the Nail cease to drive, it would acquire a sensible Heat, because its insensible Parts which receive the Motion of the Hammer now acquire an agitation every way rapid." We certainly must admit that the user of this illustration had just and clear ideas; and the interesting point here appears to be, that as Father Regnault's was not an original work, but a mere compendium or popular scientific treatise of the period, we see, if only from this instance, that the doctrine of heat as a mode of motion was not confined to the great men of an earlier or a later