Chapter
1

BASIC CONCEPTS
AND THE
LAWS
OF
GASES

Introduction

Adam Smith's Wealth of
Nations was
published in the
year
1776. Seven
years earlier,
James Watt
(1736-1819)
obtained a
patent
for
his
version of
the
steam
engine.
Both men worked at
the University of
Glasgow.
Yet, in Adam
Smith's
great
work
the
only use
for
coal
was
in providing
heat
for
workers

i

.
The
machines of
the eighteenth
century
were driven
by wind,
water
and
animals.
Nearly
2000
years had
passed since
Hero of
Alexandria
made
a sphere spin
with
the force of steam;
still fire's power to
generate
motion and drive
machines
remained hidden.
Adam Smith (1723-1790)
did not
see
in coal
this
hidden
wealth of nations.

The steam
engine revealed
a new
possibility.
Wind,
water
and
animals converted
one form
of
motion to another. The
steam
engine
was
fundamentally
different:
it
converted heat
to mechanical
motion.
Its
enormous impact
on
civilization not
only heralded
the
industrial
revolution, it
also gave
birth
to a new
science: thermodynamics. Unlike the
science of
Newtonian
mechanics -- which had its
origins
in theories
of
motion of
heavenly
bodies -- thermodynamics
was
born out
of a more
practical
interest:
generating
motion from
heat.

Initially, thermodynamics
was
the study
of heat
and its ability
to
generate motion;
then
it
merged
with the larger subject
of
energy
and its interconversion from
one
form
to another. With time,
thermodynamics evolved
into
a theory
that
describes transformations of states
of
matter in
general,
motion generated by heat being a consequence of particular transformations. It is founded on essentially
two fundamental laws, one concerning energy and the other, entropy. A precise definition of energy and
entropy,
as measurable physical
quantities,
will
be presented in the
second and third chapter
respectively.
In
the following
two
sections we will
give an
overview
of
thermodynamics and familiarize the reader
with
the terminology
and concepts
that
will
be
developed in the rest
of
the
book.

Every system is
associated with an energy
and
an entropy.
When matter
undergoes
transformation from
one
state
to another, the
total
amount
of
energy
in the
system
and its
exterior
is
conserved; total
entropy, however, can only
increase
or, in idealized cases, remain unchanged.
These

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