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Martin Goldstein

The refrigerator and the universe

The laws of thermodynamics are often mentioned in popular science books, but often this only gives a superficial view. On the other hand most readers wouldn't want to struggle with thermodynamics textbooks. The refrigerator and the universe provides a substantial introduction to the subject but with a minimum of mathematics - any reader who knows a bit of high school maths. should have no trouble with this book. Indeed some might find the book slow going, with more than 200 pages taken to introduce the first and second laws of thermodynamics and to show the link between entropy and microscopic information. But it isn't difficult to read, so most readers will find the insight gained from this to be very worthwhile.

The last six chapters deal with some of the applications of thermodynamics in the other sciences. The chapter on chemical thermodynamics looks at questions such as why the oceans and atmosphere don't combine to form nitric acid (2H2O + 2N2 + 5O2 → 4HNO3). Other chapters look at thermodynamics in physics, biology (how our food getes transformed into motion) and geology (the cooling of the earth), and there is a chapter on the third law of thermodynamics and its links to quantum theory. The final chapter looks at the thermodynamics and cosmology leading up to the probable heat death of the universe.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 446 pages  
ISBN: 0674753259
Salesrank: 1292184
Weight:1.41 lbs
Published: 1995 Harvard University Press
Amazon price $40.99
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 446 pages  
ISBN: 0674753259
Salesrank: 1575563
Weight:1.41 lbs
Published: 1995 Harvard University Press
Amazon price £31.95
Marketplace:New from £31.92:Used from £20.22
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 446 pages  
ISBN: 0674753259
Salesrank: 2522297
Weight:1.41 lbs
Published: 1995 Harvard University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 53.20
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 53.20:Used from CDN$ 56.10
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Product Description

C. P. Snow once remarked that not knowing the second law of thermodynamics is like never having read Shakespeare. Yet, while many people grasp the first law of energy, "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed," few recognize the second, "Entropy can only increase." What is entropy anyway, and why must it increase? Whether we want to know how a device as simple as a refrigerator works or understand the fate of the universe, we must start with the concepts of energy and entropy.In The Refrigerator and the Universe, Martin and Inge Goldstein explain the laws of thermodynamics for science buffs and neophytes alike. They begin with a lively presentation of the historical development of thermodynamics. The authors then show how the laws follow from the atomic theory of matter and give examples of their applicability to such diverse phenomena as the radiation of light from hot bodies, the formation of diamonds from graphite, how the blood carries oxygen, and the history of the earth. The laws of energy, the Goldsteins conclude, have something to say about everything, even if they do not tell us everything about anything.

In The Refrigerator and the Universe, Martin and Inge Goldstein explain the laws of thermodynamics for science buffs and neophytes alike. They begin with a lively presentation of the historical development of thermodynamics. The authors then show how the laws follow from the atomic theory of matter and give examples of their applicability to such diverse phenomena as the radiation of light from hot bodies, the formation of diamonds from graphite, how the blood carries oxygen, and the history of the earth. The laws of energy, the Goldsteins conclude, have something to say about everything, even if they do not tell us everything about anything.