Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, May 2005
(a part of the Einstein Year series)
This is Einstein year, and the story of heat sounds pretty boring compared to Einstein’s dramatic discoveries like the theory of relativity or quantum mechanics. You might be surprised to know that Einstein wouldn’t have had a chance of making those discoveries if Kelvin and others before him hadn’t asked themselves the question “What is heat exactly?” It’s quite a dramatic story, with people being chased from continent to continent, having their honeymoons ruined, and in one case literally losing their head. It told us that the Sun and the Universe will eventually die, it nearly put an end to Darwinism, and even let us calculate how long to boil an egg, but I’ll come to that at the end.