CARNOT, Nicolas Lonard Sadi (1796-1832). Rflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu et sur les machines propres dvelopper cette puissance. Paris: Bachelier, 1824.
8o (205 x 125 mm). Half-title, folding engraved plate. (Final blank removed, tiny tear at gutter margin of last leaf.) Later half straight-grain red morocco, spine gilt. Provenance: Fredeick William Cagle (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION OF THE WORK THAT FOUNDED THE SCIENCE OF THERMODYNAMICS. Carnot's only published work, his Rflexions were prompted by the need to improve the new two-cylinder steam engine developed by Arthur Woolf early in the century. In contrast to other scientists concerned with the problem, who had focussed on the properties of steam, Carnot elaborated a general theory of heat as a motive force. In spite of his use of the then accepted concept of heat as the manifestation of a weightless, unchangeable fluid called "caloric", Carnot succeeded in proving, without mathematics, that energy or motive power is produced whenever there is a temperature difference. This theorem, which implies that once an equilibrium of temperature is reached work ceases, was the first statement of the second law of thermodynamics. The mathematical proof for the law was completed by Rudolf Clausius and William Thomson working independently in 1849-50. By introducing the fundamental thermodynamic concept of completion of cycle, in which a working substance operates through a series of changes and then returns to its original condition, Carnot also paved the way for Helmholtz's, Joule's and Mayer's individual formulations of the first law of thermodynamics (already formulated by Carnot in unpublished notebooks, written shortly before his sudden death of cholera at the age of 36). Underappreciated by contemporaries, who praised the work for its practical results only, the edition was still not sold out by 1835, and was long forgotten by 1845, when C. H. A. Holtzmann rediscovered it, followed in 1848 by William Thomson, who published a series of papers from 1848 to 1850 that extended and confirmed Carnot's results. Dibner Heralds of Science 155; En franais dans le texte 239; Norman 404; PMM 285.