Thermodynamics (Encyclopedia of Science)
Thermodynamics is the science that deals with work and heatnd the transformation of one into the other. It is a macroscopic theory, dealing with matter in bulk, disregarding the molecular nature of materials. The corresponding microscopic theory, based on the fact that materials are made up of a vast number of particles, is called statistical mechanics.
The origins of thermodynamics can be traced to the late eighteenth century. English-American physicist Benjamin Thomson, Count Rumford (1753814), became intrigued by the physical changes accompanying the boring of cannons. (Boring is the process of making a holen this case the barrel of the cannonith a twisting movement.) He found that the work (or mechanical energy) involved in the boring process was converted to heat as a result of friction, causing the temperature of the cannon to rise.
Some of the fundamental relationships involved in thermodynamics were later developed by English physicist James Joule (1818889), who showed that work can be converted to heat without limit. Other researchers found, however, that the opposite is not truehat is, that there are limiting factors that operate in the conversion of heat to work. The research of French physicist Sadi Carnot (1796832), British physicist William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (1824907), and German physicist Rudolf Clausius...
(The entire section is 950 words.)
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