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Book Id: WPLBN0000686530
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 250.33 KB.
Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: Thermodynamics  
Language: English
Subject: Science., Physics, Physics--Research
Collections: Physics Literature
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Thermodynamics. (n.d.). Thermodynamics. Retrieved from

Physics Literature

Introduction: When we discussed the ideal gas, we were able to justify the empirical equation of state pV = NkT from the point of view of Newtonian mechanics. We achieved this by defining certain intuitive ideas, such as temperature, in terms of precise mechanical concepts and by making reasonable assumptions concerning the statistical distribution of velocities in the gas. We also showed that our definition of temperature as proportional to the average kinetic energy is consistent with our intuitive notion. Our approach, however, has several weak points. First, our definition of temperature as proportional to the average kinetic energy is appropriate for an ideal gas, for which the potential energy is zero by definition. But we would like to define temperature for all systems, including those (such as solids) whose potential energy is significant or even larger in magnitude that the kinetic energy. It is by no means obvious that our definition of temperature for an ideal gas can be used in other material systems. An even more serious problem with our approach is that we still don?t know how to explain the simplest phenomenon that occurs when two bodies are brought into thermal contact: the fact that their temperatures become equal. What is the driving ?force? for this phenomenon? Why is it that energy flows from the object with the highest temperature to the object with the lowest temperature? A reversed energy flow would not violate Newton?s laws, because energy would still be conserved. However, an spontaneous flow of energy from a cold object to a hot object is never observed. Why?


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