James Prescott Joule (1818-1889) conducted numerous studies on heat flow and received many honors. No doubt his greatest discovery (made in 1840), however, was the value of the constant known as the “mechanical equivalent of heat,” making possible the quantitative conversion of heat energy into mechanical energy, and vice versa. This conversion factor led to the formulation of the law of conservation of energy, the most basic and universal of all scientific laws. It is surely appropriate that the privilege of making such a, vital discovery was given by God to a man of sincere Christian faith. Since the energy conservation principle is the first law of thermodynamics, Joule can rightly be considered the chief founder of thermodynamics as a scientific discipline.
Excerpted from Men of Science, Men of God by Henry M. Morris. Copyright 1982, 1988 by Henry M. Morris. Used by permission.