TOPICS IN THE HISTORY OF MODERN PHYSICAL SCIENCE
Taught in 1998 by Michael J. Crowe, University of Notre Dame, Crowe.1@nd.edu
 
Required books

Topics and readings

Writing requirements


Required Books 

Crowe, M. J., Mechanics of the Universe from Galileo to Einstein (Notre Dame, Indiana: Poverty Publishing Co., 1997).
 

Crowe, M. J., Heat and Thermodynamics from Newton to the Kinetic Theory (Notre Dame, Indiana: Poverty Publishing Co., 1998).
 

Crowe, M. J., Theories of Light from the Greeks to Young and Fresnel (Notre Dame, Indiana: Poverty Publishing Co., 1998).
 

Duhem, Pierre, Aim and Structure of Physical Theory (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1991).
 

Hankins, T. L., Science and the Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985).
 

Purrington, Robert D., Physics in the Nineteenth Century (New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1997).
 

Westfall, Richard, Life of Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994).
 

Books on Reserve for All Parts of the Course: 

Harman, Peter, Energy, Force and Matter (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1982); a fine presentation of the history of physical science in the nineteenth century; good bibliography. 

Magie, W. F. (ed.), Source Book in Physics (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935). 

Nye, Mary Jo, Before Big Science: The Pursuit of Modern Chemistry and Physics, 1800-1940 (New York: Twayne, 1997). 


Topics and readings

1. Introduction 

Introductory lecture; bibliography for history of physical science; research paper. 

Section 1: PHYSICAL SCIENCE FROM THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION TO 1800

Part One: Mechanics, Especially Newton

Materials on Reserve for Mechanics Section: 
Cohen, I. Bernard, and Richard Westfall, Newton: A Norton Critical Edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995). 
Gjertsen, Derek, The Newton Handbook (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986). 
Hall, A. Rupert, Isaac Newton: Adventurer in Thought (Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996). 
Newton, Isaac, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
Westfall, Richard, Life of Isaac Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994). 

2. Mechanics from Aristotle to Galileo. 
Read: Crowe, Mechanics, preface and pp. 1-48. 

3. Mechanics between Galileo and Newton. 
Read: Crowe, Mechanics, pp. 49-59. 

4. The Life of Isaac Newton. Read one of the following: 
Cohen, I. Bernard, "Isaac Newton," Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. X, pp. 42-103. 
Hall, A. Rupert, Isaac Newton: Adventurer in Thought (Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996). 
Westfall, Richard S., Life of Isaac Newton (Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993). 

5. The Mechanics of Isaac Newton I. 
Read: Crowe, Mechanics, pp. 60-90. 

6. The Mechanics of Isaac Newton II. 
Read: Crowe, Mechanics, pp. 91-116. 

7. The Mechanics of Isaac Newton III. 
Read: Crowe, Mechanics, pp. 116-139. 

Part Two: Theories of Light

Materials on Reserve for Theories of Light Section: 
Buchwald, Jed Z., The Rise of the Wave Theory of Light: Optical Theory and Experiment in the Early Nineteenth Century (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1989). 
Cantor, G. N., Optics after Newton: Theories of Light in Britain and Ireland 1704-1840 (Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press, 1983). 
Cohen, I. B., Isaac Newton's Papers and Letters on Natural Philosophy, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1978). 
Newton, Isaac, Opticks (New York: Dover, 1952). 
Sabra, A. I., Theories of Light from Descartes to Newton (London: Oldbourne, 1967). This is an excellent study of the development of theories of light in the seventeenth century, which places much emphasis on the philosophical contexts in which each of the theories was developed and discussed. 

8. Theories of Light in the Period up to Newton and Huygens; Newton's 1672 Paper 
Read: Crowe, Theories of Light, ch. 1, and ch. 2, pp. 1-17. The materials on the rainbow in ch. 1 can be skimmed. 

9. Christiaan Huygens: Wave Theorist? 
Read: Crowe, Theories of Light, ch. 2, pp. 30-59. 

10. Isaac Newton: Particle Theorist? Read: 
Crowe, Theories of Light, ch. 2, pp. 17-29, 60-64, and 
Isaac Newton, Opticks (on reserve): examine the Opticks so as to get an idea of its structure. This can be done by reading the definitions and axioms (pp. 1-20), but not his discussions of them, then reading the propositions up to p. 277 (again without his discussion of them), read 278-282, skim 317-338, then read Queries 1-29 with some care. 

11. Light in the Enlightenment; Young's Early Optical Investigations
Read: Crowe, Theories of Light, ch. 3 and ch. 4, pp. 1-25. 

12. Thomas Young: Huygenian or Newtonian? Fresnel and the Establishment of the Wave Theory of Light 
Read: Crowe, Theories of Light, ch. 4, pp. 26-46. 

Part Three: Physical Science in the Enlightenment

13. Character of the Enlightenment; Mathematics and the Exact Sciences during the Enlightenment 
Read: Hankins, Enlightenment, Preface and chs. 1-2 and pp. 191-196.

14. Experimental Physics and Chemistry during the Enlightenment 
Read: Hankins, Enlightenment, chs. 3-4 and pp. and pp. 196-199.

Section 2: PHYSICAL SCIENCE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

Part One: Introduction

15. Physical Science at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century 
Read: Purrington, Physics in the Nineteenth Century, chs. 1 and 2. 

Part Two: Electricity and Magnetism

16. Electricity and Magnetism. 
Read: Purrington, Physics in the Nineteenth Century, ch. 3. 
Recommended Reading: Corresponding sections in W. F. Magie (ed.), Source Book in Physics

Part Three: Atomic Theories

Materials on Reserve for the History of Atomic Theories: 
Knight, David M., Atoms and Elements: A Study of Theories of Matter in England in the Nineteenth Century (London: Hutchinson, 1967). 
Mellor, D. P., The Evolution of Atomic Theory (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1971). 
Nash, Leonard K., The Atomic-Molecular Theory (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1950). 
Nye, Mary Jo, "The Nineteenth Century Atomic Debates and the Dilemma of an 'Indifferent Hypothesis'" in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 7 (1976), 245-68. 

17. Origins of Atomic Theory: Dalton 
Read: Nash, Atomic-Molecular Theory, pp. 1-58 (on reserve). 

18. Dalton and Doubts about Atomic Theory 
Read: Nash, pp. 58-114 and 
Purrington, Physics in the Nineteenth Century, ch. 6. 

19. Atomism in the 1860s and Beyond 
Read: Mellor, pp. 118-34 (on the periodic table), 
Knight, pp. 105-26 (on the atomic debates), 
and Nye's paper (all on reserve). 

Part Four: Theories of Heat and Thermodynamics

Materials on Reserve for Heat and Thermodynamics Section: 
Cardwell, D. S. L., From Watt to Clausius: The Rise of Thermodynamics in the Early Industrial Age. An excellent, highly reliable book, rich in information on the relation of heat theory and thermodynamics to history of technology. 
Carnot, Sadi, Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire
Coley, Noel G. and Vance M. D. Hall (eds.), Darwin to Einstein: Primary Sources on Science and Belief; see esp. pp. pp. 73-100. 
Ferguson, E. S., "The Steam Engine before 1830" in M. Kranzberg and C. Purcell (eds.), Technology in Western Civilization, vol. I, pp. 245-63. 
Gower, Barry, "Speculation in Physics: The History and Practice of Naturphilosophie," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 3 (1973), 301-56. 
Kuhn, Thomas S., "Energy Conservation as an Example of Simultaneous Discovery" in Marshall Clagett (ed.), Critical Problems in the History of Science, pp. 321-56. This paper, which has formed the locus classicus for much subsequent research in this area, should be read as soon as convenient. It is also available in Thomas Kuhn, The Essential Tension
Mott-Smith, Morton, The Concept of Energy Simply Explained. This "popular level" book, first published in 1934 under the title The Story of Energy, provides a good introduction to thermodynamics and includes substantial historical information. It cannot be relied upon for historical detail. See esp. the first 160 pages. 
Nye, Mary Jo, "The Nineteenth Century Atomic Debates and the Dilemma of an Indifferent Hypothesis," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 7 (1976), 245-68. 
Talbot, G. R. and A. J. Pacey, "Some Early Kinetic Theories of Gases: Herapath and His Predecessors," British Journal for the History of Science, 3 (1966), 133-49. 

20. Introduction; The Role of Energy in History; Early Quantifications of Heat; The Caloric Theory of Heat and Its Critics 
Read: Crowe, History, chs. 1, 2, and 3. 
Recommended Readings: W. F. Magie (ed.), Source Book in Physics, pp. 128-33 (Amontons, and Fahrenheit) and 133-65 (Taylor, Black, Rumford, and Davy). 

21 Development of Water and Steam Power and the Industrial Revolution 
Read: 
1. Crowe, History, ch. 4 and 
E. S. Ferguson, "The Steam Engine before 1830" in Melvin Kranzberg and C. Purcell (eds.), Technology in Western Civilization, vol. I, pp. 245-63 (on reserve). 
2. Purrington, Physics in the Nineteenth Century, ch. 5. 

22. Mechanical Background of Conservation of Energy; Naturphilosophie, Physics of Gases; Radiant Heat; Wave Theory of Heat; Fourier 
Read: Crowe, History, chs. 5, 6, and 7 
Recommended Readings: W. F. Magie (ed.), Source Book in Physics, pp. 50-60 (Descartes, Leibniz, D'Alembert, and Young). 
Gower, Barry, "Speculation in Physics: The History and Practice of Naturphilosophie," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 3 (1973), 301-56 (on reserve). 

23. Carnot and the Carnot Cycle. 
Read: Crowe, History, ch. 8, which includes a selection from Carnot.
Recommended Reading: Sadi Carnot, Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire

24. Discovery of the Law of Conservation of Energy. 
Read: 
1. Crowe, History, ch. 9, which includes selections from Mayer, Joule, Colding, and Mohr. 
2. Kuhn, Thomas S., "Energy Conservation as an Example of Simultaneous Discovery" (on reserve). 
3. Purrington, Physics in the Nineteenth Century, ch. 6. 
Recommended Reading: W. F. Magie (ed.), Source Book in Physics, pp. 203-20 (Joule and Helmholtz). 

25. Second Law of Thermodynamics; Kinetic Theory of Gases; Atomism Revisited 
Read: 
1. Crowe, History, ch. 10, which includes a selection from William Thomson, and 
Crowe, History, ch. 11. 
2. W. F. Magie (ed.), Source Book in Physics, pp. 228-36 (Clausius).
3. Purrington, Physics in the Nineteenth Century, ch. 7. 
Review: Mary Jo Nye, "The Nineteenth Century Atomic Debates and the Dilemma of an Indifferent Hypothesis," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 7 (1976), 245-68 (on reserve). 
Recommended Reading: Noel G. Coley and Vance M. D. Hall (eds.), Darwin to Einstein: Primary Sources on Science and Belief, pp. 66-8; 73-4; 84-125. 

Part Five: Pierre Duhem; The End of the Century

26. Pierre Duhem and the History and Philosophy of Physics. 
Read: Duhem, Aim and Structure, pp. 7-57. 

27. Duhem (continued) 
Read: Duhem, Aim and Structure, pp. 144-222, 268-70. 
Recommended Reading: Remaining sections of Duhem, Aim and Structure, including "The Physics of a Believer." 

28. The End of the Century 
Read: Purrington, Physics in the Nineteenth Century, chs. 8 and 9. 


Writing Requirements 

1. Research Paper: All graduate students are expected to complete a research paper of approximately 15 pages in length on a topic agreed to beforehand. Undergraduates are expected to prepare a shorter essay. In writing these essay, avoid the mistakes noted in the style sheet distributed in class. Please submit two copies of the paper, one of which will be returned to you with commentary and grade. 
2. Reports: Each student will be asked to make one or possibly two reports in class. These will typically take the form of a summary of an important published paper or chapter of a book. A copy of the report should be distributed to each member of the class at the time that the report is made. 

Approximate Percertages for Grading: Research paper 40% Class participation and reports 20% Final Exam 40% 

Final Exam: Friday, Dec. 18, 1998 from 10:30 to 12:30 The exam will very probably consist of three essay questions and 6 identifications. 

 

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