In the middle of the 19th century, physicists abandoned the idea of heat as a special kind of matter in favor of the idea that heat was a ’’mode of motion’’ of ordinary matter. From this ’’dynamical’’ view of heat, they proceeded to a more precise ’’kinetic’’ theory and, along with it, the idea of the kinetic atom. This paper will survey the research of men like Joule, Kelvin, Maxwell, Clausius, and Boltzmann, as it comments on the basic conceptual issues involved in this area of the history of physics.

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