|Opening page to Benjamin Thompson’s 1798 “An Inquiry Concerning the Source of Heat which is Excited by Friction”, wherein he describes how the results of his cannon boring experiment laws question to the prevailing caloric theory of heat.|
What is heat?
These boring experiments, according to Thomson, gave “farther insight into the hidden nature of heat; and to enable us to form some reasonable conjectures respecting the existence, or non-existence, of an igneous fluid.” The following summary quote by Thomson highlights the central conclusion of the article:
“What is heat? Is there anything as igneous fluid? Is there anything that can with propriety be called caloric? That heat generated by friction [in the boring experiments] appeared, evidently, to be inexhaustible, [it] cannot possibly be a material substance; … it appears to me 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 heat was excited and communicated in these experiments, except it be MOTION.”
In short, heat was experimentally determined to be or be related to the motion of particles of bodies.
1. (a) Thomson, Benjamin. (1798). “An Inquiry Concerning the Source of Heat which is Excited by Friction”. Philosophical Transactions. Vol. XVIII, pg. 286.
(b) Read: before the Royal Society of London on January 25, 1798.
(c) Thomson, Benjamin. (1798). “An Inquiry Concerning the Source of Heat which is Excited by Friction” in The Complete Works of Count Rumford, (pgs. 469-93). Oxford University Press, 1870.
● An Experimental Inquiry Concerning the Source of Heat which is Excited by Friction – Wikipedia.