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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.

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

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!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • M
  • Burlingame, CA, United States
  • 12-30-12

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Andre
  • El Paso, TX, United States
  • 10-06-11

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mario
  • Wadsworth / OH
  • 09-05-14

An endless subject for study

This book shows how thermodynamics is a vast field of study. I wanted just to have an introduction of this subject, but it is complex and needs time and study to grasp the fundamentals. It is a good book for it gives an comprehensive idea of the field.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Narrator was drilling tacks

He pulled his words from understanding. So he modulated the pronunciation often made me tune into what he was trying to drill into the listener. Probably a really good performance. Not a lot of thermodynamics options out here this one was what I wanted to help form images of the laws, to move into my own reading.

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Awesome intro to thermodynamics.

I have only taken physics 12, and so could not grasp all of the later material on gibbs energy and the like. However, I plan on listening to it several more times because of my interest in the subject. But if youre not familiar with physics, you can still get the basic concepts given throughout

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Very Informative

Keeping formulae straight with only verbal medium was never going to be easy.

Otherwise, presentation was excellent.

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Thermodynamics made even more boring

Definitely touched up on some good concepts, but the voice actor has the voice of a wet peanut watching ink dry as he fills out an IRS complaint form.

I only listen to audio books to get through the boredom of reading, Nick Sullivan did not help my cause. Maybe choose someone less monotone next time.

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Good overview

A good review although a bit more technical than I wanted at times especially in the treatment of the 3rd law.

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Very Good Introduction

This book takes the reader through all the concepts if an introductory Thermodynamics course and explains the ideas with very little math.

I recommend this book for listeners who want an overview before (or even while) they delve into the math.

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  • Overall
  • Lesley
  • 04-11-12

NO PDF

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • 04-17-11

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful