Four Laws That Drive the Universe

Four Laws That Drive the Universe


By (author) Peter Atkins

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 144 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 196mm x 20mm | 259g
  • Publication date: 1 November 2007
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199232369
  • ISBN 13: 9780199232369
  • Illustrations note: 8 line drawings
  • Sales rank: 85,344

Product description

The laws of thermodynamics drive everything that happens in the universe. From the sudden expansion of a cloud of gas to the cooling of hot metal, and from the unfurling of a leaf to the course of life itself - everything is directed and constrained by four simple laws. They establish fundamental concepts such as temperature and heat, and reveal the arrow of time and even the nature of energy itself. Peter Atkins' powerful and compelling introduction explains what the laws are and how they work, using accessible language and virtually no mathematics. Guiding the reader from the Zeroth Law to the Third Law, he introduces the fascinating concept of entropy, and how it not only explains why your desk tends to get messier, but also how its unstoppable rise constitutes the engine of the universe.

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Author information

Peter Atkins is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Lincoln College. He is the author of nearly 60 books, which includeGalileo's finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Scienceand the world-renowned textbook Physical Chemistry(now in its eighth edition). His other books includeThe Periodic Kingdom, Molecules, and the textbooksInorganic Chemistry,Chemical Principles, andMolecular Quantum Mechanics. He has been a visiting professor in France, Israel, New Zealand, and China, and continues to lecture widely throughout the world.

Review quote

His engaging account...the lucid figures offer readers a firm understanding of energy and entropy. Science Concise, well-written, engaging and carefully structured... an enjoyable and informative read. Chemistry World Peter Atkins's account of the core concepts of thermodynamics is beautifully crafted. Simon Mitton, THES A brief and invigoratingly limpid guide to the laws of thermodynamics. Saturday Guardian Atkins's systematic foundations should go a long way towards easing confusion about the engaging book, just the right length (and depth) for an absorbing, informative read. Mark Haw, Nature [Atkins'] ultra-compact guide to thermodynamics [is] a wonderful book that I wish I had read at university. New Scientist

Table of contents

Prologue ; 1. THE ZEROTH LAW: the concept of temperature ; 2. THE FIRST LAW: the conservation of energy ; 3. THE SECOND LAW: the increase in entropy ; 4. FREE ENERGY: the availability of work ; 5. THE THIRD LAW: the unattainability of zero ; Conclusion