Thermodynamics: Beyond the First Law

  • Jay Newman

Our discussion of thermodynamics in the last chapter was limited to energy considerations. Although energy conservation is a necessary requirement for any process to occur, it is not a sufficient condition. There are many energy-conserving processes that occur spontaneously, but that are not reversible even though that reversed process would also conserve energy. In this chapter we continue our introduction to thermodynamics with a discussion of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics. We relate entropy to the degree of disorder in an isolated system through a microscopic picture and we show that this disorder always increases with time. Life is a constant struggle to maintain a high degree of order. The corresponding reduction in entropy is accomplished at the expense of even more disorder in our environment in order to satisfy the second law of thermodynamics. We next discuss Gibbs free energy, related to chemical potential, the most important...


Free Energy Gibbs Free Energy Internal Energy Free Energy Change Occupation Number 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jay Newman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyUnion CollegeSchenectadyUSA

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