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Episode Info:

Hot Molecules, Cold Electrons: From the Mathematics of Heat to the Development of the Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable (Princeton University Press, 2020), by Paul Nahin, is a book that is meant for someone who is comfortable with calculus, but for those readers who are, it is a treat. It is a thorough study of the history and mathematics of the heat equation, which is not only important as an analysis of heat, its analysis marked the beginning of Fourier series. It came as a surprise to me that the heat equation was also instrumental in analyzing the problem of laying the transatlantic cable that was one of the great engineering feats of the nineteenth century. Although it isn’t necessary to work through the math to appreciate this book, I think that students studying this material would not only find Paul’s treatments easy to follow, but would benefit greatly by learning something of the history that surrounds the development of the analysis and applications of the heat equation.

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