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Meet your bloggers on YouTube! — 7 Comments

  1. This is the second time I’ve seen Fr. Kurzynski cite the story about Kelvin asking “what is electricity?” I’ve done enough stuff with history research to be skeptical of these stories, so I did a little digging to see if I could find evidence for Kelvin really saying something like that. And indeed I did:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=q0w-AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA212
    From 1902 — what appears to be “Electricity” magazine, Vo. 22, #1, January 8.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=q0w-AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover

    As you can see (third column, near the top), Kelvin is reported as asking just such a question. So, the story is a valid one!

      • I find this sort of thing really very interesting. There is not a lot out there about Kelvin’s questioning “what is electricity?” I find Jaki telling the story in “The Limits of a Limitless Science,” but even Jaki only cites a 1978 book entitled ‘2500 Anecdotes for All Occasions’ (there was also a 1961 and 1970 edition, at least). The Kelvin story is also cited in an October 1946 radio station magazine called ‘Swing.’ This seems to be the same story as in ‘Anecdotes’:

        <>

        Check out
        http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Station-Albums/WHB-Swing/Swing-1946-10.pdf
        page 18.

        There are other versions of the story, in which Kelvin is asking a student. This is from 1930, in “The Progress of Physical Science” in the ‘Journal of Philosophical Studies,” Vol. 5, No. 17, pg. 79:

        <>

        • I find this sort of thing really very interesting. There is not a lot out there about Kelvin’s questioning “what is electricity?” I find Jaki telling the story in “The Limits of a Limitless Science,” but even Jaki only cites a 1978 book entitled ‘2500 Anecdotes for All Occasions’ (there was also a 1961 and 1970 edition, at least). The Kelvin story is also cited in an October 1946 radio station magazine called ‘Swing.’ This seems to be the same story as in ‘Anecdotes’:

          “Lord Kelvin, the great physicist, once paid an unexpected visit to an extensive electrical plant. He had not disclosed his identity and was shown through the plant by a young foreman, who painstakingly explained all the rudiments of electrical science, as here manifested, to the great man. When the tour was completed, Kelvin asked him quietly, “What then is electricity?” His guide was stumped. “No matter,” said Kelvin kindly, “that is the only thing about electricity which you and I don’t know.””

          Check out
          http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Station-Albums/WHB-Swing/Swing-1946-10.pdf
          page 18.

          There are other versions of the story, in which Kelvin is asking a student. This is from 1930, in “The Progress of Physical Science” in the ‘Journal of Philosophical Studies,” Vol. 5, No. 17, pg. 79:

          “This is perhaps best explained by the story attributed to Lord Kelvin. He was examining students in physics, and just out of interest he asked one of them, “Now, my good man, what is electricity?” The student scratched his head, looked very embarrassed, and finally said: “Well, sir, you may not believe me, but last night I knew all about it, and now, of course, it has gone clean out of my head!” So Kelvin called all the other students into the room, and pointing to the poor unfortunate student said: “Look! there is the only man in the world who has ever known what electricity is, and he has forgotten. “”

  2. Pingback:Meet your bloggers on YouTube! – The Catholic Astronomer – Fides et Ratio: Vaticanum Observatorium – Scienza e Fede: Specola Vaticana – Science and Faith: Vatican Observatory – Ciencia y Fe: Observatorio Vaticano – Ciê

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