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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: March 2020

11 - Basic Thermodynamics

from Case Study IV - Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics


The understanding of heat and temperature was central to the industrial revolution, which needed heat engines to supply power for industrial processes where it was required. The second law was derived from Carnot's insights into the operation of perfect heat engines. The first law was more controversial until the problems were resolved by Clausius and William Thomson through a careful analysis of the first and second laws of thermodynamics. In turn, this led to the understanding of the direction of heat flow through the introduction of a new function of state, the concept of entropy.