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Thomas Kuhn nsIn science, Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) was an American physicist and noted "paradigm change" science historian noted for his 1957 article “Energy Conservation as an Example of Simultaneous Discovery” on the history of the discovery of the conservation of energy, the philosophical framework of which he used as the model for his most famous 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, wherein he outlines a general theory of how "scientific revolutions" occur.

Energy conservation | simultaneous discovery
Kuhn's 1957 article “Energy Conservation as an Example of Simultaneous Discovery” famously categorizes twelve possible candidates for the claimant of the "discoverer" of the conservation of energy, dividing the aspirants into three groups of descending order of legitimacy:

Conservation of energy
Robert Mayer
James Joule
Ludwig Colding
Hermann Helmholtz

Mechanical equivalent of heat
Sadi Carnot
Marc Seguin
Carl Holtzmann
Gustave Hirn

Conservation of force
Karl Mohr
William Grove
Michael Faraday
Justus Liebig

In article, which is fairly detailed, in depth, and dense, as far as history of thermodynamics articles go, Kuhn looked to discern the trigger factors behind scientific discovery, by studying the behind the scenes historical details to the discovery of the mechanical equivalent of heat (via Joule) and the conservation of energy (via Mayer), and the conservation of force (via Helmholtz) [1]

Kuhn's most frequently-cited work is 1962 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which he popularizes the idea of a paradigm shift. [2] In interview, Kuhn, commented on his undergraduate course with Philipp Frank and graduate course with Percy Bridgman, stating that: [3]

“I’ve always rather liked thermodynamics; that sense of a subject which is largely mathematical but which gives you important physical consequences is a strange, tasteful experience.”

Trigger factors
In thermodynamics, he is most noted for his classic 1959 essay “Energy Conservation as an Example of Simultaneous Discovery”, in which he sought to discover the source of the phenomenon called simultaneous discovery, arguing that between 1832 and 1854 twelve scientists—above all, Robert Mayer, James Joule, Ludwig Colding, and Hermann Helmholtz—all “grasped for themselves” the essential elements of the concept of energy and its conservation. In this context, Kuhn asked why these ‘elements’ became accessible at that time, thereby seeking to identify not the innumerable ‘prerequisites’ of the principle of energy conservation, but rather what he called ‘trigger factors’. [1]

Kuhn completed his BS (1943), MS (1946), and PhD (1949) in physics at Harvard University. He later taught history of science at Harvard and philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.

1. (a) Kuhn, Thomas. (1957). “Energy Conservation as an Example of Simultaneous Discovery”, in Marshall Clagett, ed., Critical Problems in the History of Science: Proceedings of the Institute for the History of Science, 1959. (pgs. 321-56), Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969 reprint.
(b) Reprinted in Kuhn’s The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change (pgs. 66-104), Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1977.
(c) Bevilacqua, Fabio. (1993). “Helmholtz’s Ueber die Erhaltung der Kraft” in Hermann von Helmholtz and the Foundations of Nineteenth-century Science (pg. 292) by David Cahan, University of California Press.
2. (a) Kuhn, Thomas. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press.
(b) Preston, John. (2008). The Structure of Scientific Revolution: A Reader’s Guide. Continuum.
3. Kuhn, Thomas S., Conant, James, and Haugleland, John. (2002). The Road Since Structure: Philosophical Essays, 1970-1993, with an Autobiographical Interview. (pgs. 267-78). University of Chicago Press.
4. Mirowski, Philip. (1989). More Heat than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature’s Economics (pgs. 35-36). Cambridge University Press.

Further reading
● Kuhn, Thomas. (1958). “The Caloric Theory of Adiabatic Compression” (abs), Isis, 40: 132-40.

External links
Thomas Samuel Kuhn – Wikipedia
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – Wikipedia.

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