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Curious terminology

  1. Dec 4, 2011 #1
    Does anyone know why 19th Century scientists used

    the word "tension", meaning - etymologically- stretched,

    for the partial pressure of a gas?

    Likewise, the use of "tension" for potential [there is that root again] difference in

    electrical circuits?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2011 #2
    A lot of scientific terms have latin roots.
    When a gas expands it is "stretching" its volume, so that kinda makes a bit of sense.

    As for electricity, potential comes from the latin root,
    from Late Latin potentilis, powerful, from Latin potentia, power,

    Why tension - maybe , as the voltage increases the spark gap can increase also, and the one can see the spark stretching across the two terminals, or so they observed way back then.
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