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Pursuing Power and Light

Technology and Physics from James Watt to Albert Einstein

In the nineteenth century, science and technology developed a close and continuing relationship. The most important advancements in physics—the science of energy and the theory of the electromagnetic field—were deeply rooted in the new technologies of the steam engine, the telegraph, and electric power and light. Bruce J. Hunt here explores how the leading technologies of the industrial age helped reshape modern physics.

This period marked a watershed in how human beings exerted power over the world around them. Sweeping changes in manufacturing, transportation, and communications transformed the economy, society, and daily life in ways never before imagined. At the same time, physical scientists made great strides in the study of energy, atoms, and electromagnetism. Hunt shows how technology informed science and vice versa, examining the interaction between steam technology and the formulation of the laws of thermodynamics, for example, and that between telegraphy and the rise of electrical science.

Hunt’s groundbreaking introduction to the history of physics points to the shift to atomic and quantum physics. It closes with a brief look at Albert Einstein’s work at the Swiss patent office and the part it played in his formulation of relativity theory. Hunt translates his often-demanding material into engaging and accessible language suitable for undergraduate students of the history of science and technology.

About the Author

Bruce J. Hunt is an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin and author of The Maxwellians.

Reviews

Highly recommended.

- Choice

Pursuing Power and Light is the best and most up-to-date treatment, especially for undergraduates, of the key concepts and figures of 19th-century physics.

- Robert Friedel - Physics Today

Essential reading both for students in engineering and the sciences and for those in HPS departments... enjoyable and very interesting reading.

- Stathis Arapostathis - Metascience

Pursuing Power and Light is a bravura performance that should inform and inspire many an undergraduate and general reader.

- David Philip Miller - British Journal of the History of Science

Pursuing Power and Light is a bravura performance that should inform and inspire many an undergraduate and general reader.

- David Philip Miller - British Journal for the History of Science

Concise, technically lucid, and remarkably readable.

- Suman Seth - Isis
Johns Hopkins University Press
Johns Hopkins Introductory Studies in the History of Science
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9780801893582 : pursuing-power-and-light-hunt
Hardback
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