The scientific correspondence of James Watt, Joseph Black, John Robison and others, together with James Watt’s notebook of experiments on heat, edited by Eric Robinson and Douglas McKie.
The close friendship that grew up between Dr. Joseph Black, the discoverer of specific and latent heats, and James Watt, the scientific instrument maker who was destined to become perhaps the greatest engineer of all time, is in itself a dramatic relationship, not before fully appreciated. Here for the first time is the full text of all their surviving correspondence, known only fragmentarily before in J. P. Muirhead’s Life and Mechanical Inventions of James Watt, and there rather freely amended by the editor.
The amazing range of Watt’s interests—in the firing of delft and stoneware, the manufacture of alkali from salt, the invention of scientific instruments as well as the copying press, and many other matters beside the steam-engine—is revealed here. Watt’s own position as a scientist and the quality of his association with Black in further experiments on latent heat are fully documented. But the correspondence is also valuable for the light it sheds on many aspects of life in Britain in the later half of the eighteenth century.
In addition, Watt’s notebook on his experiments on heat, known before only through quotation, is presented complete. This is a primary source of first-rate importance to the historian of science.