Videnskabshistorisk Selskab

Ricardo Lopes Coelho

Professor, Privatdozent Ricardo Lopes Coelho,

University of Lisbon, Technical University of Berlin:

On the discovery of energy

The history of science teaches us that energy was discovered in the 1840s. Mayer, Joule, Colding and Helmholtz have generally been considered the discoverers. On the basis of their texts, it can be verified that they agree on the thesis ‘heat is not a substance’ and the mechanical equivalent of heat. They disagree concerning the nature of heat and the justification of this equivalence. These different interpretations of the experiments played an important role in the development of the concept of energy. The concept, which appeared in the 1860s and was directly based on the mechanical equivalent of heat, disappeared in the first half of the 20th century.

Zur Konzeption der Kraft der MechanikRicardo Lopes Coelho has been a ‘‘Professor Auxiliar’’ at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, since 1997, and a ‘‘Privatdozent’’ at the Technical University of Berlin, since 2001. He studied piano, philosophy and physics in Portugal, did his PhD at the TU-Berlin and his Habilitation in History and Philosophy of Exact Sciences at the same University. Among others, he published some articles concerning his main research interest, the understanding of scientific concepts and principles through its past and philosophy. He is the author of two books: Zur Konzeption der Kraft der Mechanik (On the Concept of Force in Mechanics) (2001) and O Conceito de Energia: Passado e Sentido (On the Concept of Energy: History and Meaning) (2006).

Prof. Coelho’s visit has been kindly sponsored by the Danish Network for Philosophy of Science.

tirsdag den 14. juni, kl. 17

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