Thermodynamics for Beginners
The title of this lecture is not intended as an insult. You are far from being beginners in thermodynamics; unfortunately, I, too, have suffered instruction in it. I believe that the recent work of Coleman and his associates has made thermodynamics, for the first time, a clear, definite theory that can be taught to beginners. Coleman treats deformable media subject to non-uniform temperature fields. He combines mechanical and thermodynamic principles at the highest level of difficulty. I wish to explain the central thermodynamic idea without these complications. The intended range of application is just that of classical thermodynamics: homogeneous blocks of matter which can be assigned a temperature, volume, and other parameters at each time. There results a theory that is simple, explicit, and embracing, in the same sense as the elementary “Newtonian” mechanics of “bodies” is simple, explicit, and embracing. It is not thermostatics, a theory of equilibria; rather, it is the simplest kind of true thermodynamics. I wish I had been taught thermodynamics in this way; it would have saved me years of perplexity, frustration, and disgust. I am speaking to you, not as beginners yourselves, but as teachers, because I expect that anyone who is shown this way of looking at thermodynamics will adopt it at once and will use it to explain the theory of temperature and heat to his students.
KeywordsConstitutive Equation Newtonian Mechanic Heat Gain Thermodynamic Process Homogeneous Process
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