Peter Tait ns2In existographies, Peter Tait (1831-1901) (CR:146) was a Scottish mathematical physicist, noted for []

In 1864, Tait published “Dynamical Theory of Heat” and “Energy” in the North British Review, wherein he began to outline his views on the historical development of thermodynamics. [4] These two articles later became the basis for his 1868 Sketch of Thermodynamics. [5]

In 1867, Tait co-authored, with William Thomson, Treatise on Natural Philosophy, which worked to popularize William Rankine's terms "potential energy" and "kinetic energy", in place of vis mortua and vis viva, respectively. This book is said to have helped to establish the concept of "energy" within the structure of the theory of mechanics. [3]

Tait was closely associated with English physicist William Thomson and Scottish physicist James Maxwell. The three of them, being life-long good friends, for instance, used the shorthand ofθ∆ics” to signify the science of thermodynamics, in personal communications postcards. [1]

Maxwell's demon
In 1867, Maxwell, in a letter to Tait, introduced his now-famous thought experiment of Maxwell’s demon was conceived. [2]

Tyndall-Stewart-Tait debate
In 1874, Tait was involved in the Tyndall-Stewart-Tait debate.

In 1875, Tait, as a repercussion of the debate, co-authored with Scottish physicist Balfour Stewart the controversial book The Unseen Universe: or Physical Speculations on a Future State, in which they speculate on immortality, supposedly in an energy-thermodynamic sense, the heat death of the universe; how thoughts are molecular motions of the brain; how the universe may contain "bonds of energy" that connect to the thinking aspects of the mind; among curious other subjects. [6]

Tait was a product of the Edinburgh school of thermodynamics.

See also
Donald Cardwell

1. Mahon, Basil. (2003). The Man Who Changed Everything - the Life and Science of James Clerk Maxwell (pg. 132). UK: Wiley.
2. Schmitz, John E.J. (2007). The Second Law of Life: Energy, Technology, and the Future of Earth as We Know It. William Andrew Publishing.
3. Tait, Peter Guthrie (1831-1901) - Eric Weisstein's World of Scientific Biography.
4. Tait, Peter G. (1868). Sketch of Thermodynamics. Edmonston and Douglas.
5. (a) Maxwell, James C. (1878). “Tait’s ‘Thermodynamics’ (I)”, (pgs. 257-59). Nature, Jan. 31.
(b) Maxwell, James C. (1878). “Tait’s ‘Thermodynamics’ (II)”, (pgs. 278-81). Nature, Feb. 07.
6. Stewart, Balfour and Tait, Peter G. (1875). The Unseen Universe: or Physical Speculations on a Future State. Macmillan.

Further reading
● Tait, Peter. (1864). “Dynamical Theory of Heat”, North British Review.
● Tait, Peter. (1864). “Energy”, North British Review.
● Tait, Peter. (1904). Heat (ch. 20: Watt’s Indicator Diagram, pgs. 298-323; ch. 21: Elements of Thermodynamics, pgs. 324-51). MacMillan and Co. (1884, 1st ed).

External links
Peter Tait – Wikipedia.

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