The Refrigerator and the Universe: Understanding the Laws of Energy

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9780674753242: The Refrigerator and the Universe: Understanding the Laws of Energy
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In this volume, the Goldsteins aim to explain the laws of thermodynamics. Whether we want to know how a simple device like a refrigerator works, or to understand the fate of the universe, we must start with the concepts of energy and entropy. The authors begin with the historical development of thermodynamics. They describe attempts by engineers and "natural philosophers" to understand the nature of heat and its efficient use in heat engines to produce motion, and how these led to the 19th-century discovery of two fundamental laws of energy, which apply to fields as diverse as physics, chemistry, biology, and geology. Although 20th-century discoveries of relativity, and quantum mechanics have modified these laws, they have not been contradicted. Once the fundamental concepts have been explained, the Goldsteins show how the laws follow from the atomic theory of matter. They give examples of their applicability to phenomena such as: the radiation of light from hot bodies; the formation of diamonds from graphite; how the blood carries oxygen; and the history of the earth, and how it maintains its temperature. The laws of energy, the authors conclude, affect everything, even if they do not explain everything. The Goldsteins feature the scientific personalities involved, and the problems that they solved, or failed to solve. The book is designed to appeal to those with little scientific background but a curiosity about the concepts of energy and entropy; and also to scientists who use thermodynamics in their research and would like to broaden their understanding of the subject.

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The writing is clear, uncluttered, insightful, and makes use of many excellent analogies to explain and clarify difficult but important concepts. Readers at all levels, from high school to professional scientists, will find something intriguing in this book...It provides a very readable and informative account of a difficult topic. The strengths of �this book� are its scope and coverage and much excellent writing...It contains a rich mix of interesting ideas covering important historical events and applications of the laws of energy and entropy. -- Harvey S. Leff "American Journal of Physics" The strengths of [this book] are its scope and coverage and much excellent writing...It contains a rich mix of interesting ideas covering important historical events and applications of the laws of energy and entropy. -- Harvey S. Leff "American Journal of Physics"

From the Back Cover:

C.P. Snow once remarked that not knowing the second law of thermodynamics is like never having read Shakespeare. Yet, while many people grasp the first law of energy, 'Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, ' few recognize the second, 'Entropy can only increase.'

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