The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction

The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction

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From the sudden expansion of a cloud of gas or the cooling of a hot metal, to the unfolding of a thought in our minds and even the course of life itself, everything is governed by the four Laws of Thermodynamics. These laws specify the nature of 'energy' and 'temperature', and are soon revealed to reach out and define the arrow of time itself: why things change and why death must come. In this Very Short Introduction Peter Atkins explains the basis and deeper implications of each law, highlighting their relevance in everyday examples. Using the minimum of mathematics, he introduces concepts such as entropy, free energy, and to the brink and beyond of the absolute zero temperature. These are not merely abstract ideas: they govern our lives. In this concise and compelling introduction Atkins paints a lucid picture of the four elegant laws that, between them, drive the Universe. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 120 pages
  • 109.22 x 170.18 x 10.16mm | 99.79g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 22 black and white illustrations
  • 0199572194
  • 9780199572199
  • 32,101

About Peter Atkins

Peter Atkins is Fellow of Lincoln College, University of Oxford. He is the author of nearly 60 books, which include the world-renowned textbook Physical Chemistry due to publish in its nineth edition). His other textbooks include Inorganic Chemistry, Chemical Principles, and Molecular Quantum Mechanics. He has also written a number of books for the general public, including Galileo's finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science, The Periodic Kingdom, and Molecules. He has been a visiting professor in France, Israel, New Zealand, and China, and continues to lecture widely throughout the world.

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Table of contents

Preface ; 1. The Zeroth Law ; 2. The First Law ; 3. The Second Law ; 4. The Third Law ; Afterword

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Review quote

Review from previous edition It takes not only a great writer but a great scientist with a lifetime's experience to explains such a notoriously tricky area with absolute economy and precision, not to mention humour. Books of the Year, Observer. 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

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Customer reviews

This brief guide to the four laws of thermodynamics is presented in a sequential and very easy-to-read manner. The author uses easy examples and analogies to help the reader understand the concepts involved. A highly recommended reading for those who need a quick, but relatively in-depth understanding of the main principles in more
by Valerie Smith