The Story of Energy: The Physical Laws that Govern the Universe
This documentary explains how scientists came to understand the nature of energy (which came to be expressed in the two laws of thermodynamics) in the 18th-19th century. The history of science has always intrigued me as it’s so rarely taught in public schools.
In the 18th century, what we now call science was referred to as “natural philosophy.” German-born Gottfried Leibnitz was the first “natural philosopher” to study the properties of energy. He believed the universe could be described by the same principles that drove simple machines invented during the Renaissance. He eventually concluded that the world is machine driven by a living force put there by God.
It was only through the discovery of atoms* that Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann was able to prove that entropy existed. According to Boltzman, heat is transferred when heated highly excited atoms excite other atoms.
*Boltzmann and others were able to mathematically prove the existence of atoms long before scientists developed the technology to “see” them.