Saturday, December 6, 2008

Heat - BBC and Berkeley podcasts

BBC's In Our Time is the weekly program that from subject to subject reveals some aspect of the history of ideas. Obviously the history of science and scientific theory and discovery is also vbery relevatn. Hence, from time to time, In Our Time delves into a physics subject, as this week with Heat. In some ways this proved to be a bit of a confusing program. I'll come back to the strength of it, but first of all want to turn to another podcast which much more effectively explains why heat is so difficult to grasp and what it, in modern theory, actually is.

This podcast is Berkeley's returning, math-free,Physics for future Presidents which is named in the fall of 2008 Letters and Science and receives a new name virtually every semester, but is best titled Physics for future Presidents after all (as in the fall of 2006). Around the third and the fourth lecture, professor Richard Muller, in easy steps explains heat and runs the basics of atomic theory, which eventually is needed to capture the modern framework in which heat is understood. With that baggage we can turn back to the more historically oriented In Our Time edition.

So, the strength of In Our Time is to tell the history of how we deconstructed heat and how we came to understand it apart from temperature and heat flows. It gives the names and dates that Muller does not give. It also shows how this scientific development goes hand in hand with practical application in the technologies that sprout the industrial revolution. And what the industrial revolution actually is, for this you must turn back to Berkeley's History 5 . (see: Industrialization and Agricultural Revolution)

More In Our Time:
Simon Bolivar,
The Translation Movement,

More Physics for future Presidents:
Letters and Science
Roswell New Mexico,
Hydrogen versus Gasoline.

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