As a young boy, James Prescott Joule and his brother conducted electrical experiments by giving each other shocks. The boys also intentionally shocked the family's servants.Continue Reading
Joule was the son of a rich brewer and received much of his education at home until he was 15. The physicist was educated by John Dalton who taught Joule the basics of physics, chemistry and mathematics. Joule was always curious about improving technology using science. His father's brewery was the perfect laboratory, and the physicist used salvaged parts from the brewery to conduct thermodynamic and electrical experiments. Joule determined the brewery could conserve as much as 80 percent of its mechanical work load by switching from steam power to batteries. Despite his discoveries, Joule's brewery continued to use coal-fired steam engines to produce its famous ale.
The scientist built his first electromagnetic engine at age 19. When electrical wires in the engine overheated, Joule noticed a relationship between heating metal in wires with electricity and heating fluids in flasks. His most famous experiment involved heating water using a paddle wheel that turned when the physicist dropped weights. Joule noticed the rate of heat and energy transfer is the same in all states of matter. The mechanical measurement of work, the joule, is named in honor of the scientist.Learn more about Electricity