Georg Helm

Georg Helm nsIn existographies, Georg Helm (1851-1923) (CR:40) was a German mathematical physicist, of the Dresden school, noted for []

In 1881, Helm married Elise Zeuner, the daughter of German physicist Gustav Zeuner, the creator of technical thermodynamics and founder of the Dresden school of thermodynamics.

In 1887, Helm, in his The Doctrine of Energy, argued that the hypothesis of atomism was an unnecessary hypothesis and that the science of energy and entropy was all that was need to uniform physics; a book that contained an appended final chapter on the extension of the energy principle to social theory and economics, traversing the hierarchy of physical energy to vital energy to social energy. [1]

On the subject of economic thermodynamics, for instance, Helm postulated that money was the economic equivalent of the lowest form of "social entropy". In another sense, Helm, supposedly, was the first to argue that money constitutes the economic equivalent of "low entropy". This latter view, however, may have been a mis-translation by Romanian mathematician Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen. [5]

In 1898, Helm, in his Historical Development of Energetics, included a section on “Classical Thermodynamics”, arguing to the effect that thermodynamics had reached such a well-established state that “it can certainly be called ‘classical’”, hence the name classical thermodynamics. [6] Helm, supposedly, comments, however, that the label ‘classical’ had first been used not by him but by those who opposed all efforts to develop thermodynamics further. [7]

Helm studied mathematics at Dresden Polytechnic during the years 1867 and 1872. He completed his PhD at the University of Leipzig in 1881. He then became professor of analytical geometry, mechanics and mathematics, and physics at Dresden University of Technology from 1888 to 1922.

Helm’s work attracted the attention of German physical chemist Wilhelm Ostwald who adopted Helm’s precept that “in the last analysis everything that happens is nothing but changes in energy.” [3] This principle view, supposedly, was utilized by Ostwald, in his 1909 book Energetic Bases of Cultural Studies, to argue that the function of law, commerce, government, and language were the transformations of “crude” energy into “useful” energy with a minimum of waste. [4]

1. (a) Helm, Georg F. (1887). Die Lehre von der Energy (The Doctrine of Energy). Leipzig: Felix.
(b) Helm, Georg F. (1887). Die Lehre von der Energie: Historisch-Kritisch Entwickelt, Nebst Beiträgen Zu Einer Allgemeinen Energetik (The Doctrine of Energy: Historical-Critical Developed, Along with contributions to one general energetics). Biobiobazaar, 2010.
(b) Mirowski, Philip. (1989). More Heat than Light – Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature’s Economics (pgs. 267-28). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2. Georg Helm - Technical University at Dresden.
3. Lindsay, Robert B. (1976). Applications of Energy: Nineteenth Century (pg. 339). Dowden, Huthchinson, and Roth.
4. Ostwald, Wilhelm. (1909). Energetic Bases of Cultural Studies (Energetische Grundlagen der Kulturwissenschaften). Leipzig: Duncker.
5. Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. (1971). The Entropy Law and the Economic Process (pg. 283). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
6. (a) Helm, Georg F. (1898). Die Energetik: Nach Ihrer Geschichtlichen Entwickelung (Energetics: Historical Development). Leipzig.
(b) Staley, Richard. (2008). Einstein’s Generation: the Origins of Relativity Revolution (Georg Helm, pg. 355-57). University of Chicago Press.
7. Helm, Georg F. (2000). The Historical Development of Energetics (pg. 153-60). Kluwer Academic Press.

Further reading
● Deltete, Robert J. (2005). “Die Lehre von der Energie: Georg Helm’s Energetic Manifesto”. Centaurus, Vol. 47, Issue 2, pgs. 140-62.

External links
Georg Helm – Wikipedia.
Georg Helm – Technical University of Dresden (German → English)

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