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The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Peter Atkins

Review from previous edition: "It takes not only a great writer but a great scientist with a lifetime's experience to explains such a notoriously tricky area with absolute economy and precision, not to mention humour." --Books of the Year, Observer. … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Peter Atkins
Genre: Science
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
1 review about The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short...

A no-nonsense introduction to thermodynamics

  • Apr 26, 2010
The field of thermodynamics sprung up in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, as the industrial revolution heated up and there was an increasing need to understand the steam engine as the driving force behind almost all of the technological development of that era. Throughout the nineteenth century most of the field was refined and set up on the intellectual foundations that we would be familiar with even today, and this very short introduction sums up the most important aspects of thermodynamics. This book is intended for the general audience as an accessible and minimally technical introduction to the laws of thermodynamics, as presently understood. The understanding of these laws has evolved over time, and especially with the advent of statistical physics they had been put on a wholly different foundation. However, this book does not delve at all into the statistical mechanics and introduces the laws of thermodynamics in their own right as a self-contained intellectual structure. It is actually quite remarkable that these laws have survived more or less intact all the incredible advances that have shaken the twentieth century physics - relativity, statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, etc. It is therefore very likely that whatever the final theory of the laws of nature ends up looking like, the laws of thermodynamics will still have its place in the intellectual underpinnings of science. As such, these laws could be rightfully considered an indispensible part of every modern education, and every person who aims to be considered scientifically literate would be wise to acquaint him/herself with the basic understanding of them. In that regard this short book is an excellent source of information. The only shortcoming that I could think of is the very cursory coverage of some more modern applications, like those that pertain to biology. Even so, it is a good introduction for people who just need a meat-and-potatoes understanding of thermodynamics.

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