The Evolution of Carnot’s Principle

  • E. T. Jaynes
Part of the Fundamental Theories of Physics book series (FTPH, volume 31-32)


We trace the development of the technical ideas showing that the Second Law of Thermodynamics became, over a Century ago, a general principle of reasoning, applicable to scientific inference in other fields than thermodynamics. Both the logic and the procedure of our present maximum entropy applications are easily recognized in the methods for predicting equilibrium conditions introduced by Gibbs in 1875. Chemical thermodynamics has been based on them ever since. What is new in this field is not the method, but the recognition of its generality.


Maximum Entropy Heat Engine Hypothesis Space Para Hydrogen Heat Reservoir 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. B. Alberts, D. Bray, J. Lewis, M. Raff, K. Roberts & J. D. Watson, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Garland Publishing Co., New York; pp. 550–609 (1983).Google Scholar
  2. Sadi Carnot, Reflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu, Bachelier, Paris, (1824).Google Scholar
  3. J. Willard Gibbs, “On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances”, Trans. Conn. Acad. Sci (1875-78). Reprinted in The Scientific Papers of J. Willard Gibbs, Vol. 1; Dover Publications, Inc., N. Y. (1961).Google Scholar
  4. C. C. Gillispie, Lazare Carnot, Savant, Princeton University Press (1971). A technical analysis of his work, and its relation to that of his son Sadi. Original manuscripts.Google Scholar
  5. E. T. Jaynes, “The Minimum Entropy Production Principle”, in Annual Review of Physical Chemistry, Vol. 31, 579–601 (1980). Reprinted in E. T. Jaynes, Papers on Probability, Statistics and Statistical Physics, R. Rosenkrantz, Ed., D. Reidel Publishing Co., Dordrecht-Holland (1983)Google Scholar
  6. A. L. Lehninger, Bioenergetics, W. A. Benjamin, N. Y. (1965)Google Scholar
  7. A. L. Lehninger, Biochemistry, the Molecular Basis of Cell Structure and Function, Worth Publishers, Inc., 444 Park Ave. South, New York, N. Y. (1975).Google Scholar
  8. L. Onsager, Phys. Rev. 37, 405; 38, 2265 (1931)zbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. M. Planck, Scientific Autobiography, Philosophical Library, N. Y. (1949); pp.17–18.Google Scholar
  10. M. Reinhard, Le Grand Carnot, 2 vols., Paris, 1950–52.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. T. Jaynes
    • 2
    • 1
  1. 1.St. John’s CollegeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

Personalised recommendations