Why are the sign conventions of work done in thermodynamics different for physics and chemistry?


1 Answer 1


The difference can be understood by looking at the history of development of Thermodynamics .

During the initial stages of industrial revolution the main focus was to get the work done by a machine the more the work done by the machine the more beneficial it was thought to be . Thus it assumes a positive sign for work done by the system as we are measuring the work done by the system (Machine).

On the other hand chemistry deals more with changes in the composition of the working fluid or composition of the system-surroundings more in general. Thus, work done on the system which brings about changes in the system is considered positive

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    $\begingroup$ It appears you posted your question and then answered your own question and accepted that answer less than 10 minutes later. What, then, was the purpose of asking the question here? $\endgroup$
    – KCd
    Nov 15, 2016 at 6:48
  • $\begingroup$ I have seen many people ask this question and thus thought it would be a good idea to post it here so that people who would search for it might find an answer (QnA style ) this question is still open for you to add your thoughts, (I actually didnt know what that tick mark did at that time , sorry my mistake) $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2016 at 12:46

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