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Questions tagged [thermodynamics]

For questions about the branch of physics concerning heat and temperature and their macroscopic relationship to energy and work.

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When was Kelvin's vitalism rejected in physics?

In 1851, in one of the most famous publications in the history of thermodynamics, On the Dynamical Theory of Heat, with numerical remits deduced from Mr JOULE'S equivalent of a Thermal Unit. etc., ...
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What's the history of the use of crude oil for transportation before the Industrial Revolution?

What's the history of the use of crude oil for transportation before the Industrial Revolution? Wiktionary says the Latin word petroleum, from petra (“rock”) + oleum (“oil”), is medieval Latin, so ...
Geremia's user avatar
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Fatio de Dullier's Theory of Gravity -- Why ridiculed in 17th/18th century?

I read in Newton and the Counterfeiter about the young mathematician who was friends with Sir Isaac and competent enough to have detected an error in Principia. He offered a theory of gravity, I ...
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Ideal gas equation, mercury thermometer and temperature

Initially water thermometer were used to measure temperatures around the 1600s, then in 18th century mercury was used in thermometers because it expands linearly with temperature. But how do they know ...
Rahul Einstien's user avatar
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188 views

Who was the first to understand that there is not a net flux of energy between Sun and Earth, but of entropy?

According to Penrose's Cycles of Time, he starts by reminding the usefulness of the second law of thermodynamics and how it applies to everyday life. In particular, how the net energy of Earth is a ...
Mauricio's user avatar
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Origin and justification for stating the second law of thermodynamics as $dS=d_{\rm{e}}S+d_{\rm{i}}S$?

The second law of thermodynamics is sometimes stated as: $dS=d_{\rm{e}}S+d_{\rm{i}}S$ with : $dS$, the variation of entropy of the system; $d_{\rm{e}}S$, the entropy exchanged with or supplied to the ...
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First time equilibrium notation was used

I was wondering when was the first time that a chemist wrote a chemical equilibrium with the $\rightleftharpoons$ symbol. And if it was before or after Arrhenius's dissociation theory.
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What is the history of $T\neq 0$ quantum field theory?

I am looking to understand the impact of finite temperature quantum field theory. specifically low energy version applied to condensed matter. Certainly it helps to treat many-body systems a ...
Mauricio's user avatar
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Poisson's laws for adiabatic processes

I've been reading about Thermodynamics lately. The set of equations satisfied in an adiabatic process (and also more generally in polytropic ones) is: $$p_1V_1^\gamma = p_2V_2^\gamma$$ $$T_1V_1^{\...
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What was the chronologically first derivation PV=nRT?

Wikipedia describes the Ideal Gas Law as coming from a combination of Boyle's Law, Charles' Law, Avogadro's Law, and Gay-Lussac's Law. It gives several derivations, both empirical and theoretical, ...
dain's user avatar
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What motivated scientists to define quantities at a point?

We know that quantities can be defined at a point. Let's take density for instance. If we take a volume in some quantity of matter and keep on shrinking it to a point where we can assign a uniform ...
Harshit Rajput's user avatar
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1 answer
310 views

Why is thermodynamics called thermodynamics?

Thermodynamics is derived from two Greek words Therme, which means heat Dynamis, which means power We know that 'thermodynamics' encapsulates many concepts like energy, temperature, entropy, exergy, ...
Harshit Rajput's user avatar
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145 views

In which work was Boltzmann's entropy originally introduced?

I get an impression from this enyclopedia entry that the primary source of the Boltzmann entropy equation $S = k \log W$ might be 1866, Über die Mechanische Bedeutung des Zweiten Hauptsatzes der ...
Galen's user avatar
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What concept did pre-modern people have about thermodynamic phenomena?

How did people before the advent of modern science in the 17th century conceive thermodynamic phenomena? I want to know how people in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China and in the Middle ...
Don Al's user avatar
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What material was the wire with which J.P. Joule did his experiment, with which he arrived at his law of heat dissipation from a resistor?

I have searched in Internet, but I have not found the material. It couldn't be copper, because a short circuit would occur, and it couldn't be Nicrom, because Nicrom was not developed until 1905, and ...
ilich qynn's user avatar
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Since when is it commonplace to use conservation of energy for dynamics problems?

If I throw an object, I can derive its trajectory using the forces acted on it. I can also do the same using conservation of energy. Since when is it commonplace to use conservation of energy for ...
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Were there any contributions to thermodynamics and electromagnetism from Medieval Islamic science?

The Medieval Islamic world, between 8th to the mid 13th century, is known for its developments in academic knowledge. Particularly in astronomy. Many stellar objects still derive their name from ...
Mauricio's user avatar
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Did proponents of classical and statistical thermodynamics get along well with each other?

Proponents of classical thermodynamics believed the subject matter to be continuous, while the statistical thermodynamics proponents' subject matter was made up of atoms and variations of collectives ...
Deschele Schilder's user avatar
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How did Newton originally formulate the Law of Cooling?

I am searching for Newton's original formulation of the Law of Cooling. In his article (p.140-143), Newton said: "For the heat which the hot iron communicates in a given time to cold bodies ...
David A.'s user avatar
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Historical evolution of the ideas behind Clausius-Clapeyron equation and the classical/statistical notion of entropy

The concept of entropy in classical thermodynamics has its roots in attempts to improve the design and efficiency of steam engines; through Sadi Carnot's work, scientists eventually came to realize ...
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When did they say 'progression is downward?'

Many creationists use the 2nd law of Thermodynamics "Progression is always downward, a law," to reject evolution. When did this misunderstanding of Thermodynamics start and how to refute it?
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Did Einstein oppose evolution? [closed]

According to the laws of nature progression is always downward. One of these laws is the Second Law of Thermodynamics which says that isolated systems cannot increase in complexity. For example, a ...
Turk Hill's user avatar
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What did people understand heat and temperature to be in Clausius' time?

I just took a read of Clausius' original writing from 1867 on the second law. He refers to the "unit of heat" as "that amount of heat which is required to increase the temperature of unit-weight of ...
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Who introduced 1/T=δS/δU and when?

Who first defined temperature $T$ such that $\frac{1}{T} = \frac{\delta S}{\delta U}$, and where and when? It could not have been Thomson, right? He did not have an entropy concept. Clausius?
JPM's user avatar
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What is the etymology of "phase space" of a dynamical system?

The state space of a dynamical system is often called a "phase space". What is the etymology of this? (Note that I'm not asking about the history of the concept, but rather about the history of the ...
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Why was it necessary to define the "Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics"?

Historically, why was it necessary to define the Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics after defining the other Laws? In our current understanding of science, the way we study it in schools, it seems obvious. ...
Devansh Mittal's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
252 views

What is the history behind defining temperature as measure of hotness?

I know that when two bodies of different temperature are kept in contact "heat" flows from hotter body to colder. But how did anyone know that it is the "hotness" that flows, one could have said that ...
PRITIPRIYA DASBEHERA's user avatar
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1 answer
152 views

How did Carnot come up with the idea of Carnot Engine being the most efficient engine?

I am not asking the proof of why the Carnot Engine is the most efficient engine. I wish to know the history of the development of idea of the most efficient engine. I wish to know how Carnot came up ...
Devansh Mittal's user avatar
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Why do many names of technical and scientific subjects end with "ics"?

The names of many technical and scientific subjects, like mathematics, physics, statistics, etc., etc., end with letters "ics". What is meant by this, if anything? Was there any logic behind it or is ...
FAHDI GORSY's user avatar
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Earliest use of the word 'polytropic' to describe an equation of state or process

When and by whom was the word 'polytropic' first used to describe an equation of state or process of the form $P \propto V^n$? Why was this particular word chosen? The earliest use of the word that I ...
Kishore's user avatar
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1 answer
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Was Lord Kelvin at any point a proponent of vitalism?

Vitalism is the notion now discredited as pseudoscientific that there is some fundamental cleavage between living and non-living matter. This blog post contains some quotes that suggest Lord Kelvin ...
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1 answer
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How did Einstein know the Avogadro Number?

Wikipedia says the Avogadro number was determined by Perrin in 1908. But Einstein used the value $$N=6\times 10^{23}$$ as early as 1905 in order to estimate the size of the fluctuations of an ...
Eric David Kramer's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
378 views

When and how did usage of the term Centigrade give way to Celsius? Are/were they in fact numerically identical?

Discussion below the question Does the US National Weather Service use Celsius or Fahrenheit? and correction of my original use of "Centigrade" to the modern Celsius lead me here. For ...
uhoh's user avatar
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Heat Capacity versus Fourier's Law

What came first, Fourier's Law, or the definition of heat capacity?
Christina Daniel's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
344 views

Did Ludwig Boltzmann read Albert Einstein's publication published on Brownian motion one year before Boltzmann passed away?

Apparently there was some negative reception of Boltzmann's idea of an "atom". I assume the mathematics used by Einstein in his publication did not use any of Boltzmann's statistical mathematics ...
Sedumjoy's user avatar
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who was the "nabob" Truesdell thinking of?

In his "Rational Thermodynamics" 1983, 2nd ed., on page 55, Truesdell writes The axiomatization of Caratheodory has left a baneful legacy: Born's endorsement, which for a long time promoted ...
hyportnex's user avatar
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Query 31 in Newton's opticks and the second law of thermodynamics

Query 31 in Newton's opticks contains the following words: "But by reason of the Tenacity of Fluids, and Attrition of their Parts, and the Weakness of Elasticity in Solids, Motion is much more apt to ...
user2554's user avatar
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11 votes
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When did the concept of temperature first arise?

I am interested in when the concept of temperature first arose. This seems surprisingly hard to pin down from the web-based research I've done so far. I am mostly interested in how people thought ...
N. Virgo's user avatar
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1 answer
193 views

Who discovered the Virial Theorem?

Who first discovered the Virial Theorem? Who first wrote it down? When? Where? My guess: a 19th century thermodynamicist
Geremia's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
883 views

Why is the Brayton cycle also known as the Joule cycle? What was Joule's contribution?

Did James Prescott Joule also design this thermodynamic workcycle, separate from George Brayton? I've not found any reference to Joule's involvement besides that from George Brayton. Could someone ...
Guha.Gubin's user avatar
-1 votes
3 answers
356 views

Lord Kelvin's wonderful prediction

My question is straight forward. How did Lord Kelvin accurately determine that -273.16°C is absolute zero. I guess this was not determined by experiments cause the equipment was not so developed. ( ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
6k views

When was double-paned glass first invented and used for insulation?

Double-paned glass windows have a hollow space between two panes of glass, usually just filled with air. This can make a much better insulator than normal glass, according to Engineering Toolbox. I ...
DrZ214's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
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Discovery of kinetic gas theory

I assume that there was a single person who at a specific day in time was the very first to see and understand perfectly clearly that temperature is somehow identical with the mean kinetic energy of a ...
Hans-Peter Stricker's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
160 views

How did crude oil pipelines work before WW2?

Before World War Two, how did pipelines work for crude oil? What kind of metal or plastic were they made out of? What kind of sensors and monitoring did they need? Did they have "pigs" that travel up ...
DrZ214's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
279 views

When was the speed of sound first "correctly" calculated?

I am not a student of thermodynamics, but I will reproduce some equations and discussion from Wikipedia to highlight the principles involved in obtaining a fairly accurate — one percent perhaps — ...
uhoh's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
655 views

When did people notice the special shapes of snowflakes, and when did they start to study them?

What was the first written account about snowflake shapes and when did physicists start to study the reasons why the form appears and how snowflakes form in the air? Is there any old book that ...
yoyo_fun's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
205 views

Carnot and Entropy

After reading the article History of Entropy on Wikipedia, I noticed that it mentioned Carnot running into problems with entropy. I understand that entropy was fleshed out later by Clausius, but with ...
J. LeMoine's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
573 views

Different sign conventions in thermodynamics different for physics and chemistry

Why are the sign conventions of work done in thermodynamics different for physics and chemistry?
Ashwin Kumar k's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why is the thermoelectric figure of merit denoted by $ZT$?

Why is the thermoelectric figure of merit denoted by $Z T$? Does $Z T$ come from the abbreviation of words in some language? Update: So far, $T$ has been figured out — it is the temperature, to make ...
Αλέξανδρος Ζεγγ's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why isn't "thermodynamics" replaced with "thermostatics"?

In thermodynamics, one primarily studies systems that are in so-called "thermal equilibrium", a state in which certain prescribed "thermodynamic" quantities such as temperature, heat, chemical ...
Arturo don Juan's user avatar