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Thermodynamics

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Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that studies the effects of changes in temperature, pressure, and volume on physical systems at the macroscopic scale by investigating the collective motion of their particles using statistics. “Thermo” means heat in Greek (energy in transit) and "dynamics" means power or movement. Therefore, thermodynamics is really about the movement of energy and how energy instills movement. The idea of thermodynamics was first conceived to understand how efficiency could be increased in early steam engines.[1]

The field of thermodynamics relates to a number of physical laws that aim to study the behavior of energy flow in natural systems. There are three primary laws of thermodynamics. The first, called the Law of Conservation of Energy, suggests that energy can be transferred from one system to another system in many forms and can’t be created or destroyed. What this means is that the total amount of energy in the universe is constant. The second law of thermodynamics is that heat can’t be transferred from a cold state to a hotter one. Energy transfer is therefore one directional, meaning all natural processes are irreversible. Under the second law, it is also predicted that the entropy of an isolated system always increases with time. Entropy is a measure of the disorder or randomness of energy and matter in a given system. The third law of thermodynamics argues that if all the thermal motion of molecules or, simply put, kinetic energy, could be removed, then a state of absolute zero would be achieved.[2]

[edit] References

  1. Thermodynamics. NationMaster.com, 2008-09-30.
  2. Laws of Thermodynamics. PhysicalGeography.net, 2008-09-30.