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Four Laws That Drive the Universe

By: Peter Atkins

130 pages, Figs

Oxford University Press USA

Hardback | Sep 2007 | #168264 | ISBN-13: 9780199232369
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £10.99 $13/€12 approx

About this book

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.

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


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

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