Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress

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Oxford University Press, 2004 M08 5 - 304 pages
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What is temperature, and how can we measure it correctly? These may seem like simple questions, but the most renowned scientists struggled with them throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In Inventing Temperature, Chang examines how scientists first created thermometers; how they measured temperature beyond the reach of standard thermometers; and how they managed to assess the reliability and accuracy of these instruments without a circular reliance on the instruments themselves. In a discussion that brings together the history of science with the philosophy of science, Chang presents the simple eet challenging epistemic and technical questions about these instruments, and the complex web of abstract philosophical issues surrounding them. Chang's book shows that many items of knowledge that we take for granted now are in fact spectacular achievements, obtained only after a great deal of innovative thinking, painstaking experiments, bold conjectures, and controversy. Lurking behind these achievements are some very important philosophical questions about how and when people accept the authority of science.

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1 Keeping the Fixed Points Fixed
2 Spirit Air and Quicksilver
3 To Go Beyond
4 Theory Measurement and Absolute Temperature
5 Measurement Justification and Scientific Progress
6 Complementary ScienceHistory and Philosophy of Science as a Continuation of Science by Other Means
Glossary of Scientific Historical and Philosophical Terms

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About the author (2004)

Hasok Chang is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at University College London.

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