Since heat capacities are determined in a calorimeter taking advantage of the known heat capacity of water, how was the heat capacity of water originally determined?

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    $\begingroup$ physics.stackexchange.com/questions/297887/… $\endgroup$ – Avnish Kabaj Jan 17 '18 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ Actually used calorimetric tools like DSC calorimeters have nothing to do with heat capacity of water. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Jan 17 '18 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ It looks to me like DSC calorimeters require a reference sample with known heat capacity. Whether the reference is water or some other substance, the problem is the same. $\endgroup$ – David Rosen Jan 18 '18 at 20:28

The heat capacity of water was initially determined by doing mechanical work (moving a turbine) in the water until the temperature rose.

They then made the equivalency of mechanical and thermal energy from that.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. That makes sense. But I imagine that those early determinations weren't terribly precise. So I'm guessing that heat capacities were gradually refined in some way that didn't depend solely on a well-defined reference heat capacity such as water or any other. Perhaps the Dulong-Petit law was an early subsequent step. Likely there were many refinements along the way. $\endgroup$ – David Rosen Jan 18 '18 at 20:33

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