Article ID: CBB001252551

Heat Capacity---Reflection of the Density of States (2006)


Heat capacity data, though generally given sparse consideration, have played significant roles during the past three centuries for characterizing materials. In the 18th and 19th centuries they also presented challenges to accepted theory because they defied explanation in terms of classical statistical mechanics theories of matter. The following is a brief listing of historical highlights and a summary of the fundamental quantum principles that provided a rational exposition of these data. The underlying feature of quantum, in contrast to classical mechanics, is the formalism for computing atomic/molecular states for specified models, which leads to sparse rather than closely spaced levels. This proved to be the critical factor that accounted for the observed heat capacities. When so viewed, the mystery of the propensity for the direction of change is also clarified.

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Authors & Contributors
McCormmach, Russell
Chang, Hasok
Radelet-de Grave, Patricia
Chemla, Karine Carole
Euler, Leonhard
Speiser, David
Historia Mathematica
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Physics in Perspective
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
NTM: Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, Technik und Medizin
Oxford University Press
Theories of heat
Electricity; magnetism
Philosophy of science, as a discipline
Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent
Cavendish, Henry
Kirwan, Richard
Euler, Leonhard
Fuchs, Klaus
Rumford, Benjamin Thompson, Count
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
17th century
20th century
Great Britain
United States
University of Pennsylvania

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