Person: Carnot (2), Sadi
Sadi Carnot is best known for his theory of thermodynamics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Sadi was given named after a medieval Persian poet and philosopher called Sa'di of Shiraz.
- Lazare Carnot resigned in 1807 and devoted himself to the education of his two sons.
- In 1812, at age 16 the minimum age possible, Carnot entered the École Polytechnique where Poisson, Ampère and Arago were among his teachers.
- Chasles was in the same class as Carnot and their friendship lasted throughout Carnot's life.
- Carnot graduated from the École Polytechnique in 1814 but, before he graduated, Carnot and other students from the École Polytechnique fought unsuccessfully with Napoleon to defend Vincennes.
- After graduating, Carnot went to the École du Génie at Metz to take the two year course in military engineering.
- Carnot was moved from place to place, given jobs of inspecting fortifications, drawing up plans and writing reports.
- Carnot began to attend courses at various institutions in Paris, including the Sorbonne and the Collège de France.
- The first steam engine had come to Magdeburg three years earlier and had interested Lazare Carnot, and Sadi Carnot left Magdeburg filled with enthusiasm to develop a theory for steam engines.
- After returning to Paris, Carnot began the work which led to the mathematical theory of heat and helped start the modern theory of thermodynamics.
- The import into France of advanced engines after the war with Britain showed Carnot how far French design had fallen behind.
- The first of Carnot's major works was a paper which he wrote in 1822-23.
- From its style and detailed descriptions the paper was clearly intended for publication but Carnot never published it and its existence was only discovered in manuscript form in 1966.
- When Lazare Carnot died in August 1823, Hippolyte Carnot returned to Paris and there he helped Sadi Carnot to make the book on steam engines that he was working on at the time more understandable to the general public.
- In 1824 Carnot published this work, the only one he published during his lifetime, "Réflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu et sur les machines propres à développer cette puissance" Ⓣ(Reflections on the motive power of fire and the machinery to develop this power) which includes his description of the "Carnot cycle".
- Carnot's ideas were later incorporated into the thermodynamic theory of Clausius and Thomson.
- Carnot continued with his research after the publication of his book and although nothing of this was published, notes that Carnot made as his ideas developed have survived.
- Still unhappy with his career, Carnot retired permanently and returned to live in Paris where he aimed to continue with his research into the theory of heat.
- That Carnot's important book "Réflexions ..." should have been neglected at the time of its publication is certainly not because it went unnoticed.
- Perhaps the problem with the review was that although it stated the theorems and the conclusions of Carnot's work fully, it did not comment on the highly original reasoning which Carnot had employed to achieve his results.
- It is possible that Carnot's personality played a role in the lack of enthusiasm for his work in his lifetime.
- The Réflexions was an attempt by Carnot to answer two fundamental questions, firstly whether there was an upper limit to the power of heat, and secondly whether there was a better means than steam to produce this power.
- He introduced the concept of the "Carnot engine", an ideal heat engine.
- He showed that the efficiency of the "Carnot engine" depends only on the temperature difference within the engine and not on the substance such as steam that drives the mechanism.
- Notes which Carnot made between 1824 and 1826 show that he was moving away from the caloric theory.
- It is likely that Carnot would have made many more significant scientific contributions had his life not been so tragically short.
Born 1 June 1796, Paris, France. Died 24 August 1832, Paris, France.
View full biography at MacTutor
Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive