Talk:James Prescott Joule

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I have a question about the pronunciation of the name Joule. During my studies in physics Joule was pronounced like owl, bowl, fowl. Recently I only hear pronunciations like fool, tool. I'm interested to know how the name of Joule was pronounced and whether Joule as unit of energy is pronounced the same. 22:30, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The pronunciation of the name was not really very standardized during Joule's lifetime. There was even a little rhyming ad for the family's brewery that referred to the various possible pronunciations. I believe all physicists today pronounce it to rhyme with fool.--Bcrowell 06:00, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I have added a trivia section that mentions this and links to a page with the (presumable) brewery's advertisement. But maybe we can simply add the same link in a footnote to the sentence that says the unit name is pronounced to rhyme with "tool"? What do you think? BTW, is the pronunciation of the unit name officially decided or is it just existing practice?--Gennaro Prota 20:39, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
According to the OED, "it is almst certain that J. P. Joule (and some at least of his relatives)" used the pronunciation that rhymes with tool, although some people named Joule rhyme with foul and some with bowl. The OED cites a Nature article from 1943. So "jool" it is.--Rallette 11:37, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

Added footnote, as the IPA was again wrong. kwami (talk) 02:06, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Birth place[edit]

This website [1] claims that J.P. Joule was born in his families Salford Brewery. Does this source meet a high enough standard to be included? Quasilogic 12:56, 17 March 2016 (UTC)

Burial place[edit]

Should Joule be added to Westminster Abbey Burials? --John Bracegirdle 22:16, 16 May 2004 (UTC)

this is a very useful page indeed it explains all the things he study with links to different pages please dome here

As a local, I was always led to believe that Joule was buried in Brooklands Cemetery in Sale (though I've not seen the grave myself) but it states here he's buried in Westminster Abbey. I'll try to find out for sure. Richard Barlow 13:03, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

A quick scoot through the net reveals a difference of opinion about this! Most of the sites listing Westminster Abbey as his burial place seem to have similar wording and presumably came from the same source as this article. Other sources state he was buried in his local cemetery in Sale with a bronze bust and 772.55 inscribed on his headstone (The amount of work in ft lb Joule determined experimentally to be required to raise the temperature of 1 lb of water by 1° Fahrenheit). This article (and the similar versions) also states that Dalton is buried in Westminster Abbey as well. I have found a biography which suggests John Dalton was buried in Ardwick Cemetery in Manchester! My gut feeling is that these two great men have memorials in the abbey but the bones remained up north. Anyone have any more info? Richard Barlow 13:50, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I've checked Westminster Abbey's site - surprisingly it only has a partial list of burials so this isn't the final word but the only scientists they list as being buried there are Newton, Darwen, Kelvin, Rutherford and Thomson. Richard Barlow 15:39, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The Westminster Abbey site provides an email address for enquiries regarding burials in the abbey. I will drop them a line about this. Meanwhile I will remove the disputed data. Richard Barlow 10:42, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Official confirmation received: Neither Joule or Dalton are buried in Westminster Abbey. Joule has a memorial there but Dalton doesn't. Thanks are due to Christine Reynolds at the abbey for clearing this up so promptly. Richard Barlow 15:13, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Are we sure now that it is Sale? I always believed that it was the Southern Cemetery. If we are sure, I will pop over one afternoon and get a photo of the gravestone. Cutler 10:28, July 26, 2005 (UTC)
Cutler, take a look at the photos on (linked from main page); It's definitely Brooklands cemetary. February 13, 2005
Why, of the many values that he estimated during his life, is it "772.55" on his gravestone? Cutler 12:48, July 26, 2005 (UTC)
The 772.55 refers to the number of foot-pounds needed to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. The figure changed over the years as it became more refined but the 772.55 is almost precisely correct. I can also verify that the JP Joule headstone, and presumably accompanied by his body, is in Brooklands cemetery having seen it with my own eyes [User:Martin Hunt]
He worked with Lord Kelvin to develop the absolute scale of temperature, ...

Is this true? Surely, the time Thomson (sic) was working on absolute temperature was 1847-1848 while he was still defending the caloric theory and he and Joule were at odds. The collaboration was all about conservation of energy once the pair's thinking was reconciled in 1852-1856. Does someone have a source for the claim? Cutler 22:42, July 24, 2005 (UTC)

  • Quick Question: Where is Joule's wife buried. My apology if there is a well-known answer to this, but it just seemed odd that Joule's sister was noted on his tombstone, but not his wife. - Astrochemist 03:18, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
  • I removed the Find-a-Grave link as it said that Joule was buried in Westminster Abbey in London. I added a link to a poster showing the gravesite mentioned by Richard Barlow and Cutler above. Does anyone have a better picture? - Astrochemist 00:50, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Joule and Clausius[edit]

Joule's experiments complemented the theoretical work of Rudolf Clausius, who is considered by some to be the coinventor of the energy concept.

Considered by whom? Surely Clausius worked on the second law, Joule on the first. Cutler 09:46, July 25, 2005 (UTC)


Some vandal has inserted the lines: "angus is a naked mole rat" and "i like lamp i hope u do it is good when u like lamp because it is good" into this article. I have deleted the offending lines. Wheatleya 19:49, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

It was just some stupid high school student using the school computer to vandalize wikipedia

Second paragraph[edit]

Not sure what 'shown to study' means. JMK 17:45, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

I changed this and others that appeared to be the result of vandalism. JMK 18:31, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Mathematical formula[edit]

The formula for the mechanical equivalent of heat seems to come out of nowhere and to be "orphaned" with little explanation. Also, my guess is that the "1 cal" is inappropriate since Joule probably used different units. Perhaps someone can clear this up, if only the editing. I may try if I can get time. - Astrochemist 01:22, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

For me, this isn't really useful where it sits. Astrochemist is right that Joule wouldn't have used cal but neither would a modern physicist. My vote would be for taking it out all together. It doesn't help the general reader. Cutler 16:51, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Punctuation query[edit]

Should the opening read "...Joule, FRS" or "Joule FRS" or something different? Several variations now exist in Wikipedia articles on British scientists. Anyone have the definitive answer? It would be nice to have uniformity. - I'm leaving a similar comment on the Humphry Davy talk page. Astrochemist (talk) 13:26, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

The Isaac Newton page is a Wikipedia featured article, and it has simply "Newton FRS" so that's what I've reverted to in the Joule article. - Astrochemist (talk) 01:01, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Pronunciation of Joule[edit]

I heard that his name should really be pronounced 'Jowl' rather than the way it is commonly proounced, can anyone cite this and if it is correct would it be woorth mentioning.

KingstonJr (talk) 00:51, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

See first thread above. A footnote now explains it. kwami (talk) 02:07, 22 April 2008 (UTC)


The article states:

Thomson wrote that "the conversion of heat (or caloric) into mechanical effect is probably impossible, certainly undiscovered"

I don't understand. Steam engines were in use and they convert heat into mechanical effect.

- Pepper (talk) 13:26, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Helmoltz, Mayer[edit]

It is said here that Helmoltz in 1847 credited both Joule and Mayer. This is in contradiction with Hermann Helmholtz#Mechanics. If we suppose that the page on Helmoltz is better informed about Helmoltz than a page on Joule, the assertion here would be false. --Dominique Meeùs (talk) 16:40, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Sibum (1994)?[edit]

In the section "Reception and Priority" is a reference to Sibum (1994). There is no additional information given about what work is cited. Is the reference to the 1995 article (paper?) by H. O. Sibum listed under "Further Reading"?

Frenezulo (talk) 17:58, 1 January 2016 (UTC)

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