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History of Physical Terms: "Pressure"

Physics Education Volume 48, Number 4, ISSN 0031-9120


Scientific terms drawn from common language are often charged with suggestions that may even be inconsistent with their restricted scientific meaning, thus posing didactic problems. The (non-linear) historical journey of the word "pressure" is illustrated here through original quotations from Stevinus, Torricelli, Pascal, Boyle, Magalotti, Bernoulli and Dalton, in an attempt to follow the shift from the idea of a force to the modern understanding of the term as a state variable. The latter appears to have prevailed as a consequence of technological advances of the industrial revolution (Watt's steam engine and indicator diagram) in their 19th century re-elaboration.


Frontali, C. (2013). History of Physical Terms: "Pressure". Physics Education, 48(4), 484-490. Retrieved March 4, 2021 from .

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