Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Intro

I find most technical books written for the layman difficult to understand, and this one is no exception. In The Laws of Thermodynamics, Peter Atkins tries to teach us about the interactions of heat and work, and for the most part he succeeds.

The book is short and to the point. Atkins uses a lot of examples to illustrate what he's talking about, and manages to avoid using too much jargon. Nevertheless, I did get lost a few times, but that's probably because I have a hard time conceptualizing a lot of this stuff, not because the author did a poor job.

I do now have a better understanding of some things regarding heat, like how and why a fridge works efficiently, and why we can't get stuff lower than 0 degrees Kelvin. But some of the theoretical concepts nevertheless elude me. I think part of my problem is that I had a hard time telling the difference between things that are just part of the thermodynamics model (to make the predictions work) and actual physical properties that can be observed.

Maybe you don't have this problem. Or maybe if you do, you'll enjoy the book anyway!

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