Professor Jane Lipson Proposes a Thermodynamic Connection for "The Ultimate 24 Hours"

Recently the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine asked several professors to suggest a date that changed the course of history (The Ultimate 24 Hours | Dartmouth Alumni Magazine). Here is Professor Jane Lipson’s take:

June 23, 1847
Jane Lipson, Chemistry

On this date, during a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, William Thompson (later Lord Kelvin) highlighted James Joule’s meticulous experiments, quantifying beyond dispute the equivalence of energy transferred as heat and energy transformed into mechanical work. Thompson pointed out that Joule’s results were the definitive answer to questions about the nature of energy and its transformations; their work led directly to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Laws have profound implications, first felt during the Industrial Revolution and destined to accompany us forever as we strive to adapt this universe to our needs and desires.