University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Friday, February 20th 2015
Speaker: Amy Fisher, Science, Technology, and Society Program, University of Puget Sound
Subject: Hare's Calorimotor: Rethinking Thermodynamics in Early 19th-Century America
Refreshments served in Room 216 Physics at 3:15 p.m.

In the early nineteenth century, prominent chemists, such as Jons Jacob Berzelius and Humphry Davy, proclaimed that a revolution had occurred in chemistry through electrical science. Examining Robert Hare's contributions to this discourse, this presentation analyzes how chemists understood the relationship between heat and electricity during this transformative period. As an avid experimentalist, professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, and member of the American Philosophical Society, Hare actively shaped early American chemistry. He was part of a larger network of scholars, having corresponded with a number of scientists such as Joseph Henry, François Jean Arago, and Berzelius. He published works abroad in the Philosophical Magazine in England and the Annales de Chimie in France. He also experimented with and wrote extensively on electricity and its associated chemical and thermal effects. In particular, Hare's calorimotor – a device that utilized the voltaic pile (battery) and set caloric (or heat) into motion – raised important questions about Lavoisier's caloric theory of heat and its relationship to electricity.

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