The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction

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OUP Oxford, Mar 25, 2010 - Science - 120 pages
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From the sudden expansion of a cloud of gas or the cooling of a hot metal, to the unfolding of a thought in our minds and even the course of life itself, everything is governed by the four Laws of Thermodynamics. These laws specify the nature of 'energy' and 'temperature', and are soon revealed to reach out and define the arrow of time itself: why things change and why death must come. In this Very Short Introduction Peter Atkins explains the basis and deeper implications of each law, highlighting their relevance in everyday examples. Using the minimum of mathematics, he introduces concepts such as entropy, free energy, and to the brink and beyond of the absolute zero temperature. These are not merely abstract ideas: they govern our lives. In this concise and compelling introduction Atkins paints a lucid picture of the four elegant laws that, between them, drive the Universe. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
 

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Contents

Preface
illustrations
Chapter 1The zeroth law The concept of temperature
Chapter 2The first law The conservation of energy
Chapter 3The second law The increase in entropy
Chapter 4Free energy The availability of work
Chapter 5The third law The unattainability of zero
Conclusion
Further reading
Index
Symbol and unit index
MOLECULESA Very Short Introduction
LOGICA Very Short Introduction
PHILOSOPHYA Very Short Introduction
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About the author (2010)

Peter Atkins is the author of about 70 books, including the world-renowned and widely used Physical Chemistry, now in its 10th edition. He won the Grady-Stack award for science journalism in 2016. After graduating from the University of Leicester and a post-doctoral year in the University of California, Los Angeles, he returned to Oxford in 1965 as Fellow of Lincoln College and University Lecturer (later Professor) in physical chemistry. He retired in 2007, but continues to write and lecture worldwide.

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