His experiments subsequent to 1843 on the dynamical equivalent of heat must be mentioned briefly. In that year his father removed from Pendlebury to Oak Field, Whalley Range, on the south side of Manchester, and built for his son a convenient laboratory near to the house. It was at this time that he felt the pressing need of accurate thermometers; and while Regnault was doing the same thing in France, Mr. Joule produced, with the assistance of Mr. Dancer, instrument maker, of Manchester, the first English thermometers possessing such accuracy as the mercury-in-glass thermometer is capable of. Some of them were forwarded to Prof. Graham and to Prof. Lyon Playfair; and the production of these instruments was in itself a most important contribution to scientific equipment.
As the direct experiment of friction of a fluid is dependent on no hypothesis, and appears to be wholly unexceptionable, it was used by Mr. Joule repeatedly in modified forms. The stirring of mercury, of oil, and of water with a paddle, which was turned by a falling weight, was compared, and solid friction, the friction of iron on iron under mercury, was tried; but the simple stirring of water seemed preferable to any, and was employed in all his later determinations.
In 1847 Mr. Joule was married to Amelia, daughter of Mr. John Grimes, Comptroller of Customs, Liverpool. His wife died early (1854), leaving him one son and one daughter.
The meeting of the British Association at Oxford, in this year, proved an interesting and important one. Here Joule read a fresh paper "On the Mechanical Equivalent of Heat." Of this meeting Sir William Thomson writes as follows to the author of this notice:
"I made Joule's acquaintance at the Oxford meeting, and it quickly ripened into a lifelong friendship.
"I heard his paper read in the section, and felt strongly impelled at first to rise and say that it must be wrong, because the true mechanical value of heat given, suppose in warm water, must, for small differences of temperature, be proportional to the square of its quantity. I knew from Carnot that this must be true (and it is true; only now I call it 'motivity,' to avoid clashing with Joule's 'mechanical value'). But as I listened on and on, I saw that (though Carnot had vitally important truth, not to be abandoned) Joule had certainly a great truth and a great discovery, and a most important measurement to bring forward. So, instead of rising, with my objection, to the meeting, I waited till it was over, and said my say to Joule himself, at the end of the meeting. This made my first introduction to him. After that I had a long talk over the whole matter at one of the conversaziones of the Association, and we became fast friends from thenceforward. However, he did not tell me he was to be married in a week or so; but about a fortnight later I was walking down from Chamounix to commence the tour of Mont Blanc, and whom should I meet walking up but Joule, with a long thermometer in his hand, and a carriage with a lady in it not far off.
He told me he had been married since we had parted at Oxford! and he was going to try for elevation of temperature in waterfalls. We trysted to meet a few days later at Martigny, and look at the Cascade de Sallanches, to see if it might answer. We found it too much broken into spray. His young wife, as long as she lived, took complete interest in his scientific work, and both she and he showed me the greatest kindness during my visits to them in Manchester for our experiments on the thermal effects of fluid in motion, which we commenced a few years later"
"Joule's paper at the Oxford meeting made a great sensation. Faraday was there and was much struck with it, but did not enter fully into the new views. It was many years after that before any of the scientific chiefs began to give their adhesion. It was not long after, when Stokes told me he was inclined to be a Joulite."
"Miller, or Graham, or both, were for years quite incredulous as to Joule's results, because they all depended on fractions of a degree of temperature--sometimes very small fractions. His boldness in making such large conclusions from such very small observational effects is almost as noteworthy and admirable as his skill in extorting accuracy from them. I remember distinctly at the Royal Society, I think it was either Graham or Miller, saying simply he did not believe Joule, because he had nothing but hundredths of a degree to prove his case by."
The friendship formed between Joule and Thomson in 1847 grew rapidly. A voluminous correspondence was kept up between them, and several important researches were undertaken by the two friends in common. Their first joint research was on the thermal effects experienced by air rushing through small apertures The results of this investigation give for the first time an experimental basis for the hypothesis assumed without proof by Mayer as the foundation for an estimate of the numerical relation between quantities of heat and mechanical work, and they show that for permanent gases the hypothesis is very approximately true. Subsequently, Joule and Thomson undertook more comprehensive investigations on the thermal effects of fluids in motion, and on the heat acquired by bodies moving rapidly through the air. They found the heat generated by a body moving at one mile per second through the air sufficient to account for its ignition. The phenomena of "shooting stars" were explained by Mr. Joule in 1847 by the heat developed by bodies rushing into our atmosphere.
It is impossible within the limits to which this sketch is necessarily confined to speak in detail of the many researches undertaken by Mr. Joule on various physical subjects. Even of the most interesting of these a very brief notice must suffice for the present.
Molecular physics, as I have already remarked, early claimed his attention. Various papers on electrolysis of liquids, and on the constitution of gases, have been the result. A very interesting paper on "Heat and the Constitution of Elastic Fluids" was read before the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society in 1848. In it he developed Daniel Bernoulli's explanation of air pressure by the impact of the molecules of the gas on the sides of the vessel which contains it, and from very simple considerations he calculated the average velocity of the particles requisite to produce ordinary atmospheric pressure at different temperatures. The average velocity of the particles of hydrogen at 32° F. he found to be 6,055 feet per second, the velocities at various temperatures being proportional to the square roots of the numbers which express those temperatures on the absolute thermodynamic scale.
His contribution to the theory of the velocity of sound in air was likewise of great importance, and is distinguished alike for the acuteness of his explanations of the existing causes of error in the work of previous experimenters, and for the accuracy, so far as was required for the purpose in hand, of his own experiments. His determination of the specific heat of air, pressure constant, and the specific heat of air, volume constant, furnished the data necessary for making Laplace's theoretical velocity agree with the velocity of sound experimentally determined. On the other hand, he was able to account for most puzzling discrepancies, which appeared in attempted direct determinations of the differences between the two specific heats by careful experimenters. He pointed out that in experiments in which air was allowed to rush violently or explode into a vacuum, there was a source of loss of energy that no one had taken account of, namely, in the sound produced by the explosion. Hence in the most careful experiments, where the vacuum was made as perfect as possible, and the explosion correspondingly the more violent, the results were actually the worst.
With his explanations, the theory of the subject was rendered quite complete.
Space fails, or I should mention in detail Mr. Joule's experiments on magnetism and electro-magnets, referred to at the commencement of this sketch. He discovered the now celebrated change of dimensions produced by the magnetization of soft iron by the current. The peculiar noise which accompanies the magnetization of an iron bar by the current, sometimes called the "magnetic tick," was thus explained.
Mr. Joule's improvements in galvanometers have already been incidentally mentioned, and the construction by him of accurate thermometers has been referred to. It should never be forgotten that he first used small enough needles in tangent galvanometers to practically annul error from want of uniformity of the magnetic field. Of other improvements and additions to philosophical instruments may be mentioned a thermometer, unaffected by radiation, for measuring the temperature of the atmosphere, an improved barometer, a mercurial vacuum pump, one of the very first of the species which is now doing such valuable work, not only in scientific laboratories, but in the manufacture of incandescent electric lamps, and an apparatus for determining the earth's horizontal magnetic force in absolute measure.
Here this imperfect sketch must close. My limits are already passed. Mr. Joule has never been in any sense a public man; and, of those who know his name as that of the discoverer who has given the experimental basis for the grandest generalization in the whole of physical science, very few have ever seen his face. Of his private character this is scarcely the place to speak. Mr. Joule is still among us. May he long be spared to work for that cause to which he has given his life with heart-whole devotion that has never been excelled.
In June, 1878, he received a letter from the Earl of Beaconsfield announcing to him that Her Majesty the Queen had been pleased to grant him a pension of £200 per annum. This recognition of his labors by his country was a subject of much gratification to Mr. Joule.
Mr. Joule received the Gold Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1852, the Copley Gold Medal of the Royal Society in 1870, and the Albert Medal of the Society of Arts from the hand of the Prince of Wales in 1880.
J. T. BOTTOMLEY.