He had already made and described very important improvements in the construction of galvanometers, and he graduated his tangent galvanometer to correspond with the system of electric measurement he had adopted. The electric currents used in his experiments were thenceforth measured on the new system; and the numbers given in Joule's papers from 1840 downward are easily reducible to the modern absolute system of electric measurements, in the construction and general introduction of which he himself took so prominent a part. It was in 1840, also, that after experimenting on improvements in voltaic apparatus, he turned his attention to "the heat evolved by metallic conductors of electricity and in the cells of a battery during electrolysis." In this paper, and those following it in 1841 and 1842, he laid the foundation of a new province in physical science-electric and chemical thermodynamics-then totally unknown, but now wonderfully familiar, even to the roughest common sense practical electrician.

With regard to the heat evolved by a metallic conductor carrying an electric current, he established what was already supposed to be the law, namely, that "the quantity of heat evolved by it [in a given time] is always proportional to the resistance which it presents, whatever may be the length, thickness, shape, or kind of the metallic conductor," while he obtained the law, then unknown, that the heat evolved is proportional to the square of the quantity of electricity passing in a given time. Corresponding laws were established for the heat evolved by the current passing in the electrolytic cell, and likewise for the heat developed in the cells of the battery itself.

In the year 1840 he was already speculating on the transformation of chemical energy into heat. In the paper last referred to and in a short abstract in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, December, 1840, he points out that the heat generated in a wire conveying a current of electricity is a part of the heat of chemical combination of the materials used in the voltaic cell, and that the remainder, not the whole heat of combination, is evolved within the cell in which the chemical action takes place. In papers given in 1841 and 1842, he pushes his investigations further, and shows that the sum of the heat produced in all parts of the circuit during voltaic action is proportional to the chemical action that goes on in the voltaic pile, and again, that the quantities of heat which are evolved by the combustion of equivalents of bodies are proportional to the intensities of their affinities for oxygen. Having proceeded thus far, he carried on the same train of reasoning and experiment till he was able to announce in January, 1843, that the magneto-electric machine enables us to convert mechanical power into heat.

Most of his spare time in the early part of the year 1843 was devoted to making experiments necessary for the discovery of the laws of the development of heat by magneto-electricity, and for the definite determination of the mechanical value of heat.

At the meeting of the British Association at Cork, on August 21, 1843, he read his paper "On the Calorific Effects of Magneto-Electricity, and on the Mechanical Value of Heat." The paper gives an account of an admirable series of experiments, proving that heat is generated (not merely transferred from some source) by the magneto-electric machine. The investigation was pushed on for the purpose of finding whether a constant ratio exists between the heat generated and the mechanical power used in its production. As the result of one set of magneto-electric experiments, he finds 838 foot pounds to be the mechanical equivalent of the quantity of heat capable of increasing the temperature of one pound of water by one degree of Fahrenheit's scale. The paper is dated Broomhill, July, 1843, but a postscript, dated August, 1843, contains the following sentences:

"We shall be obliged to admit that Count Rumford was right in attributing the heat evolved by boring cannon to friction, and not (in any considerable degree) to any change in the capacity of the metal. I have lately proved experimentally that heat is evolved by the passage of water through narrow tubes. My apparatus consisted of a piston perforated by a number of small holes, working in a cylindrical glass jar containing about 7 lb. of water. I thus obtained one degree of heat per pound of water from a mechanical force capable of raising about 770 lb. to the height of one foot, a result which will be allowed to be very strongly confirmatory of our previous deductions. I shall lose no time in repeating and extending these experiments, being satisfied that the grand agents of nature are, by the Creator's fiat, indestructible, and that wherever mechanical force is expended, an exact equivalent of heat is always obtained."

This was the first determination of the dynamical equivalent of heat. Other naturalists and experimenters about the same time were attempting to compare the quantity of heat produced under certain circumstances with the quantity of work expended in producing it; and results and deductions (some of them very remarkable) were given by Séguin (1839), Mayer (1842), Colding (1843), founded partly on experiment, and partly on a kind of metaphysical reasoning. It was Joule, however, who first definitely proposed the problem of determining the relation between heat produced and work done in any mechanical action, and solved the problem directly.

It is not to be supposed that Joule's discovery and the results of his investigation met with immediate attention or with ready acquiescence. The problem occupied him almost continuously for many years; and in 1878 he gives in the Philosophical Transactions the results of a fresh determination, according to which the quantity of work required to be expended in order to raise the temperature of one pound of water weighed in vacuum from 60° to 61° Fahr., is 772.55 foot pounds of work at the sea level and in the latitude of Greenwich. His results of 1849 and 1878 agree in a striking manner with those obtained by Hirn and with those derived from an elaborate series of experiments carried out by Prof. Rowland, at the expense of the Government of the United States.