What is thermodynamics?

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What is thermodynamics???

The study of transformation of energy from one form to another

An alternative definition is study of a system at equilibrium. This definition is very useful for engineering applications.

Thermodynamics and Energy

Thermodynamics deals with energy and:

Energy is the only universal currency: one of its many

forms must be transformed into another in order for stars to shine, planets to rotate, plants to grow, and civilizations to


Of course, with all the discussion on the energy and the environment, including global warming, energy is an important issue and therefore understanding thermodynamics can help improve our understanding of the problem.

Why is studying thermodynamics important?

Thermodynamics sets limits on physical and biological processes and gives relationship between properties. As you will see both of these give us an insight into how natural systems work and give us some powerful tools in calculating various quantities, including those discussed above.

Thermodynamics is also unique in the world of physics. Mechanics deals with mechanical systems, fluid dynamics deals with fluids, and electromagnetism deals with electrical and magnetic systems. However, thermodynamics applies to any macroscopic system: mechanical systems, fluids, electrical systems, etc. It also applies to systems which at first we do not associate with physics including geological processes, living cells, and ecosystems (see any introductory ecology text).

And finally, to quote Albert Einstein

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


From Autobiographical Notes