Article ID: CBB784542822

Watt’s in a name? Units of power and energy (2019)


The origins and adoption of the units of power and energy watt and joule are examined, along with their relationships to the achievements of their namesakes, James Watt and James Prescott Joule. The watt and joule came about as part of a group of practical electrical units named and defined in the second half of the nineteenth century. The development of that system and its relationship to the French revolutionary metric system and the current Système International (SI) is outlined. William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin) and the Siemens brothers had important parts in the story; their roles and the units names after them are also described.

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Authors & Contributors
Sichau, C.
Hong, Sungook
Lindley, David
Chang, Hasok
Yi, Sang Wook
Schettino, Edvige
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Physics in Perspective
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Joseph Henry Press
Oxford University Press
Pickering & Chatto
Standardization and standards
Metric system
Kelvin, William Thomson, Baron
Joule, James Prescott
Maxwell, James Clerk
Mayer, Julius Robert von
Lodge, Oliver
Dewar, James
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, late
20th century
17th century
18th century
20th century, early
British Isles
Polar regions
British Association for the Advancement of Science
Convention du mètre (1875)
International Bureau of Weights and Measures
Royal Society (Great Britain). European Science Exchange Programme

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