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The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction | [Peter Atkins]

The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction

The laws of thermodynamics drive everything that happens in the universe. From the sudden expansion of a cloud of gas to the cooling of hot metal - everything is moved or restrained by four simple laws. Written by Peter Atkins, one of the world's leading authorities on thermodynamics, this powerful and compact introduction explains what these four laws are and how they work, using accessible language and virtually no mathematics.
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Publisher's Summary

The laws of thermodynamics drive everything that happens in the universe. From the sudden expansion of a cloud of gas to the cooling of hot metal - everything is moved or restrained by four simple laws. Written by Peter Atkins, one of the world's leading authorities on thermodynamics, this powerful and compact introduction explains what these four laws are and how they work, using accessible language and virtually no mathematics.

Guiding the listener a step at a time, Atkins begins with Zeroth (so named because the first two laws were well established before scientists realized that a third law, relating to temperature, should precede them - hence the jocular name Zeroth), and proceeds through the First, Second, and Third Laws, offering a clear account of concepts such as the availability of work and the conservation of energy. Atkins ranges from the fascinating theory of entropy (revealing how its unstoppable rise constitutes the engine of the universe), through the concept of free energy, and to the brink, and then beyond the brink, of absolute zero.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

In a hurry? Listen to more Very Short Introductions.

©2010 Peter Atkins (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

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3.9 (62 )
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  •  
    Diane Walter MENLO PARK, CA, United States 08-09-11
    Diane Walter MENLO PARK, CA, United States 08-09-11 Member Since 2011

    Boomer-type who loves science, especially physics and cosmology.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Accessible, but needs the figures"

    I took beginning thermo in my wasted youth and wished that I could have had this book to lean on while I was taking the class. I thought it was humorous and accessible. I listened to it walking to work and I chuckled out loud at several things. Near the end, when the narrator was talking about phase diagrams, I could have used the figures in the "downloadable pdf" he kept referring to. Apparently Audible doesn't offer this with the book, which is a glaring omission. The book itself is worth getting if you want a very general overview of the 0th through 3rd laws of thermodynamics. It made me want to study the topic further!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M Burlingame, CA, United States 12-30-12
    M Burlingame, CA, United States 12-30-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Exactly What I Was Looking For"

    This entertaining discussion of the laws of thermodynamics was originally published in hardback as "Four Laws that Drive the Universe." The author, Peter Atkins, is a famous chemist and the author of textbooks on physical chemistry and popular science books like "Galileo's Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science." Atkins is also a famous atheist in the Richard Dawkins "God Delusion" mold, but his atheism does not figure into this book, which I downloaded because I was interested in a moderately rigorous review of thermodynamics. This was partially because of the relationship between the 2nd Law and Information Theory (see Gleick's "The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood), partially because of CP Snow's famous essay on "The Two Cultures" in which he compares ignorance of the 2nd Law to ignorance of Shakespeare's "Hamlet", and partially because it has been 35 years since I took physical chemistry in college. This met my needs perfectly. Atkins manages to balance readability/listenability with scientific rigor. I do own the print version of this Very Short Introduction and referred to it periodically as I listened. For example, I would look at the figures in a chapter before listening to it while jogging. I doubt it would work well without the print copy. I have downloaded several of these Very Short Introductions as audiobooks, and this is one of the better ones.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andre El Paso, TX, United States 10-06-11
    Andre El Paso, TX, United States 10-06-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Very Good Non Math Text on Thermo"

    I wish my engineering prof could have told it to me this way.
    It gave me a better picture of the whole then what I learned
    in school.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Carlingford, Australia 03-09-13
    Amazon Customer Carlingford, Australia 03-09-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent book"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Laws of Thermodynamics to be better than the print version?

    Not really, this is not a story book. You need the print version to digest ideas which sometimes are not easy..


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Laws of Thermodynamics?

    I do not think this question applies to this book.


    What about Nick Sullivan’s performance did you like?

    He was very clear and read at a good speed. He gave the topic a very "friendly atmosphere" - much better than listening to an ordinary lecturer.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No,you need to ponder at the ideas, read the text and then listen again.


    Any additional comments?

    Overall, an excellent book and narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Anchorage, AK, United States 12-04-11
    Richard Anchorage, AK, United States 12-04-11 Member Since 2005
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Need the Downloadable Figures"
    Where does The Laws of Thermodynamics rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I learned a lot from the book (minus the downloadable charts), so I would rank it fairly high.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    N/A


    What does Nick Sullivan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He is an OK reader.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    There are frequent references to downloadable figures. These are unfortunately NOT included.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Share 6803 Day Street,Tujunga, CA, USA 06-19-11
    David Share 6803 Day Street,Tujunga, CA, USA 06-19-11 Member Since 2009

    Book Fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Laws of Thermodynamics"

    I studied Thermodynamics as a young man and thought this be a good work to clear the basics of the subject that I hadn't got years ago. From the write up I expected it to be a basic introduction to thermodynamics. It isn't - it's just some professor up on cloud nine totally unable to communicate to anyone except perhaps persons at his level who of course don't need it. No problem with the reader but it's difficult to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Franz Oberweis, Austria 09-15-12
    Franz Oberweis, Austria 09-15-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Could not burn a CD!!!"
    Any additional comments?

    The first CD burn was a disastrous quality. On trying again I kept on beinn tols that Audible downloads couls only be burnt one time. Please send me a new download so I can try burning this title on CD.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • Lesley
    Southport, United Kingdom
    4/11/12
    Overall
    "NO PDF"

    A PDF was supposed to accompany this but it doesn't download. Iv'e tried it twice to no avail.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • James
    Blackpool, Lancashire, United Kingdom
    4/17/11
    Overall
    "Very good book,"

    I thought this book was great. It did not speak down to you but it also did not use complicated language. I work in refrigeration and found this book very helpful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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