Joule Paper-1 by gegeshandong


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Joey Gonya

Ms. Burke

Senior Communication Arts

15 March 2011

                                       James Prescott Joule

       What is an innovator? You can it is someone who changes something, or does something

in a new way. I would have to say that an innovator is someone who is a creator of new ideas. In

this case, James Prescott Joule accomplished this status and then some. James Prescott Joule was

born at Salford, near Manchester, England, on December 24, 1818. James therefore did not have

the opportunity to attend university. However, his great desire was to continue to study science,

so he set up a laboratory in his home and began experimenting before and after work each day.

James saw this desire to study science as a natural consequence of his Christian faith. As he had

later wrote, ‘it is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an

acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.’ (Lamont) He has had his last name be

used as a unit of energy. James has this privilege to honor him for his hard work with heat and

energy. “Some people say that he even gave rise to the science of thermodynamics” (Kirkland


       James showed that a given amount of work always produces a certain amount of heat,

and his experiments were important to formulating the first law of thermodynamics (Kirkland

77). All of his research quickly led to furthering our knowledge of energy and how it is used. For

example, in 1840, he sent a paper named ‘On the Production of Heat by Voltaic Electricity’ to

the Royal Society in London, which was probably the most prestigious association of British

scientists. In this paper, he showed that the amount of heat produced per second in a wire
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carrying an electric current equals the current (I) squared multiplied by the resistance (R) of the

wire. The heat that was made was considered the power (P). This equation was (P=I2R) and was

dubbed Joule’s Law (Lamont).

       All of James Prescott Joule’s work was in short a new discovery with every experiment.

He paved the way for modern physics. In 1843, Joule calculated the amount of mechanical work

needed to produce an equivalent amount of heat. This quantity was called ‘the mechanical

equivalent of heat’. Just like everything else in James Joule’s life, people were hesitant about his

work. But, James Joule was persistent. Joule’s findings challenged the caloric theory of heat

which most physicists believed in at that time. In the caloric theory, heat was believed to be a

fluid substance. Another stumbling block to the acceptance of Joule’s findings was a disbelief of

the incredible accuracy of his measurements. But Joule was patient and ingenious in his

experiments. These attributes greatly assisted him in avoiding errors and in obtaining results far

more accurate than those of previous experimenters.

       There are many different examples of James Prescott Joule being an innovator. Just as he

did research with heat and thermodynamics, he also made many great discoveries with gas

molecules. In 1848, Joule became the first scientist to estimate the velocity or the speed of gas

molecules. Joule was one of the first scientists to recognize the need for standard units of

electricity, and he strongly advocated their establishment. This standardization was later done by

the British Association for the Advancement of Science under the direction of Maxwell. With the

research he did in this area of physics he had the unit of energy or work named after him.

       James Joule later partnered up with another great scientist named Thomson. The two

scientists complemented each other perfectly—Joule, the accurate and resourceful experimenter

with only limited training in mathematics, and Thomson, the mathematically talented physicist
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concerned with extending the theory underlying physics. For eight years, Joule worked with

Thomson on a number of important experiments to confirm some of the predictions being made

in the new discipline of thermodynamics. The most famous of these experiments involved the

decrease in temperature associated with the expansion of a gas without the performance of

external work. This cooling of gases as they expand is known as the ‘Joule-Thomson effect’.

This principle provided the start for the development of the refrigeration industry. This shows

how diverse James Joule’s experiments went into changing and innovation in the world as we

know it today. His innovations spanned from the amount of heat produced per second in a wire

carrying an electric current to the innovation of the refrigeration industry. James Prescott Joule

was truly a great innovator in America and his work will forever be present for as long as we


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                                        Works Cited

Lamont, Ann. "James Joule." Answers in Genesis - Creation, Evolution, Christian Apologetics.

       March 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2011. <


Kirkland, Kyle. Time and Thermodynamics. New York: Facts on File, 2007. Print.

Repas, Robert. "Power to the People, but in What Units?" Wilson Web. Machine Design, 12 Aug.

       2010. Web. 14 Feb. 2011. <


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