Modern Thermodynamics
- Chapter 1
2
two simple sounding statements have far reaching consequences. Max Planck (1858-1947) was deeply
influenced by the breadth of the conclusions that can be drawn from them and devoted much of himself to
the study of thermodynamics. In reading this book, I hope the reader will come to appreciate the
significance of this often quoted opinion of Albert Einstein (1879-1955):
"A
theory is more impressive the greater the simplicity of its premises is, the more different kinds of things it
relates, and the more extended its area of applicability. Therefore the deep impression which classical
thermodynamics made upon me. It is the only physical theory of universal content concerning which I am
convinced that, within the framework of the applicability of its basic concepts, it will never be over
thrown."
The thermodynamics of the nineteenth century, that so impressed Planck and Einstein, described
static systems that were in thermodynamic equilibrium. It was formulated to calculate the initial and final
entropies when a system evolved from one equilibrium state to another. In this "Classical
Thermodynamics" there was no direct relationship between natural processes, such as chemical reactions
and conduction of heat, and the rate at which entropy changed. During the twentieth century, Lars
Onsager (1903-1976), Ilya Prigogine (1917-2003) and others extended the formalism of classical
thermodynamics to relate the rate of entropy change to rates of processes such as chemical reactions and
heat conduction. From the outset, we will take the approach of this "Modern Thermodynamics" in which
thermodynamics is a theory of irreversible processes, not merely a theory of equilibrium states.
Previous Page Next Page