Early details

In 1839, a young 15-year-old Irish mathematical physics student named William Thomson was in attendance at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution of Northern Ireland, where Scottish educator John Nichol, a professor of astronomy, had that year took the chair of natural philosophy. Upon doing so, Nichol updated the curriculum, introducing students to the new mathematical works of French mathematical physicist Joseph Fourier's particularly his 1822

In 1840, Thomson also came across Edinburgh mathematics professor Philip Kelland's 1837

Clapeyron

At some point during the years 1843 to 1845, William Thomson learned about Carnot through hearing of or reading French engineer Émile Clapeyron's 1834 article “Memoir on the Motive Power of Heat”, wherein French physicist Sadi Carnot's 1824 work, for the first time, had been referenced and also reinterpreted graphically, using English engineer John Southern's 1796 indicator diagram methodology. [6]

English thermodynamics historian

American low-temperature historian

Paris bookstores

During this time (likely in 1845), Thomson tried to find a copy of Carnot’s

“I went to every book-shop I could think of, asking for thePuissance Motrice du Feu, by Carnot. ‘Caino? Je ne connais pas cet auteur’ … ‘Ah! Ca-rrr-not! Oui, voice son ouvrgae’, producing a volume on some social question by Hippolyte Carnot [Sadi’s brother]; but thePuissance Motrice du Fuewas quite unknown.”

In June of 1848, still not having found an a copy of Carnot’s publication, Thomson published a paper titled “On an Absolute Thermometric Scale Founded on Carnot’s Theory of the Motive Power of Heat” read to the Cambridge Philosophical Society, based on Clapeyron’s 1834 paper. [6] In a foot note to his paper, Thomson states: [9]

“Having never met with the original work, it is only through a paper by M. Clapeyron, on the same subject, published in theJournal de l’École Polytechnique,Vol. xiv. 1834, and translated in the first volume of Taylor’sScientific Memoirs, that the Author has become acquainted with Carnot’s Theory.”

Thomson also recalls, in retrospect, in a November 5th, 1881 note, that:

“A few months later through the kindness of my late colleague Professor Lewis Gordon, I received a copy of Carnot’s original work and was thus able to give to the Royal Society of Edinburgh my ‘Account of Carnot’s Theory’ (Jan. 2nd, 1849).”

The article referred to above is the 1849 “An Account of Carnot’s Theory of the Motive Power of Heat”, in which the term "thermo-dynamic" was coined. [10]

Clausius

By 1850, through Thomson's and Clapeyron's writings, the work of Carnot, via Clapeyron's paper, reached the likes of German physicist Rudolf Clausius. Without even seeing Carnot's paper directly, Clausius was so drawn into the subject that he wrote the famous 1850 paper "On the Moving Force of Heat", giving his views on Carnot's heat engine theories. In a foot note, Clausius states: [11]

“I have not been able to obtain a copy of this book [Reflections], and am acquainted with it only through the work of Clapeyron and Thomson, from the latter of whom are quoted the extracts afterwards given.”

The supposition, in Carnot’s work, that caught Clausius’ attention was the postulate, expressly stated, that “the quantity of heat remains unchanged” (in the process), which equates to the argument that “no change occurs in the condition of the working body” (during the work cycle). Conversely, according the view of Clausius, as developed in the mechanical equivalence of heat, a certain amount of heat would consumed in the working body during an irreversible passage of heat in the cyclical production of work. These corrections were employed and remolded in Clausius' famous

References

1. Fourier, Joseph. (1822).

2. Kelland, Philip. (1837).

3. Lindley, David. (2004).

4. (a) P.Q.R (1841) "On Fourier's expansions of functions in trigonometric series"

(b) P.Q.R (1841). "Note on a passage in Fourier's 'Heat'"

(c) P.Q.R (1842). "On the uniform motion of heat and its connection with the mathematical theory of electricity"

5. Smith, Crosbie. (1998).

6. Clapeyron, Émile. (1834). “Memoir on the Motive Power of Heat”,

7. Laidler, Keith J. (2002).

8. Thomson, William. (1889-94).

9. Thomson, William. (1848). “On an Absolute Thermometric Scale Founded on Carnot’s Theory of the Motive Power of Heat” (pgs. 100-06),

10. Thomson, William. (1849). “An Account of Carnot’s Theory of the Motive Power of Heat – with Numerical Results Deduced from Regnault’s Experiments on Steam”, (127-203)

11. Clausius, Rudolf. (1850). "On the Motive Power of Heat, and on the Laws Which Can be Deduced from it for the Theory of Heat" (author footnote, pg 1). Poggendorff's

12. Shachtman, Tom. (1999).