History of thermodynamicsThis is a featured page

From Watt to Clausius (1971)A History of Thermodynamics (2007)
Left: The 1971 From Watt to Clausius, by English science historian Donald Cardwell, a frequently cited history of thermodynamics book. [8] Right:
The 2007 A History of Thermodynamics, by German physicist Ingo Muller, is one of the first comprehensive "histories" of thermodynamics. [6]
In science, history of thermodynamics traces the development of the theories of what heat is and its relationship to work or "mechanical effect", particularly weight lifted through a height; beginning with Greek philosopher Parmenides' c.485 BC denial of the existence of a void (or vacuum), to the Arabian chemist Geber's c.790 concept of the three principles, to German scientist Otto Guericke's 1647 construction of a vacuum pump (leading to the development of the ideal gas laws), and on to the development of devices such as the battery and the steam engine, culminating with the modern-day concepts of energy and entropy, in the science of thermodynamics. [1]

Core years | 1823-1882
See main: Thermodynamics pioneers (timeline-table)
In a nutshell, thermodynamics is the science, developed between 1823 and 1882, that overthrew the caloric theory, vitalism, perpetual motion theory, and affinity theory, replacing them with the kinetic theory of heat, mechanical equivalent of heat, the conservation of energy (or force), entropy, and free energy, respectively.

The foundations of thermodynamics, according to American mathematical physicist Willard Gibbs, began to be laid in 1850, with the publication of “On the Motive Power of Heat, and on the Laws which can be Deduced from it for the Theory of Heat”, by German physicist Rudolf Clausius, which, according to Gibbs, “marks an epoch in history of physics”. [2]

The first chapter on the subject of "thermodynamics", according to Scottish physicist James Maxwell, was written by Scottish engineer William Rankine in his 1859 book A Manual of the Steam Engine and Other Prime Movers, titled “Principles of Thermodynamics”. [4] In the opening section of this chapter, in reference to the results of the mechanical equivalent of heat, Rankine defines thermodynamics as such:

“It is a matter of ordinary observation, that heat, by expanding bodies, is a source of mechanical energy; and conversely, that mechanical energy, being expended either in compressing bodies, or in friction, is a source of heat. The reduction of the laws according to which such phenomena take place, to a physical theory, or connected system of principles, constitutes what is called the science of thermodynamics.”

By mid 1870s, thermodynamics had become an independent branch of science. In the words of German physicist Rudolf Clausius, in the in the 1875 author’s preface to the second edition of his mechanical theory of heat, he states: “the Mechanical Theory of Heat, in its present development, forms already an extensive and independent branch of science.” [3] Likewise, according to the views of Gibbs
: [2]

“If we say, in the words of Maxwell some years ago (1878), that thermodynamics is ‘a science with secure foundations, clear definitions, and distinct boundaries,’ and ask when those foundations were laid, those definitions fixed, and those boundaries traced, there can be but one answer. Certainly not before the publication of that memoir (Clausius, 1850).”

(add discussion)

Historians of thermodynamics
Romanian-born American mechanical engineering thermodynamicist Adrian Bejan, in commentary on Jeffery Lewins’ 2009 book Thermodynamics: Frontiers and Foundations, considers Cambridge to have been one of the leading schools associated with historians of thermodynamics: [9]

“The University of Cambridge has been a leading “school” in the history of thermodynamics. To the names of Hawthorne, Pippard, Denbigh and Haywood, we now add Jeffery Lewins.”

The following are noted thermodynamics historians, so to speak, having produced books on aspects of thermodynamics history:


1876Peter TaitSketch of Thermodynamics
1971Robert FoxThe Caloric Theory of Gases
Donald CardwellFrom Watt to Clausius: the Rise of Thermodynamics in the Early Industrial Age
James Joule: A Biograph

1979Maffioli CesareA Strange Science: Materials for a Critical History of Thermodynamics
1980Clifford TruesdellA Tragicomical History of Thermodynamics: 1822-1854
Crosbie SmithEnergy and Empire
The Science of Energy: A Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain

1999Tom ShachtmanAbsolute Zero: and the Conquest of Cold
David LindleyBoltzmann's Atom: the Great Debate that Launched a Revolution in Physics
Degrees Kelvin: A Tale of Genius, Invention, and Tragedy

2007Ingo MüllerA History of Thermodynamics

One of the first publications to devote a large part of its text to the "history of thermodynamics" was Scottish mathematical physicist Peter Tait's 1867 Sketch of Thermodynamics. [5] In 1979, Italian science historian Maffioli Cesare published A Strange Science: Materials for a Critical History of Thermodynamics. [7] Recently, there is was the 2007 A History of Thermodynamics by German physicist Ingo Müller. [6]

See also
Founders of thermodynamics
History of chemical thermodynamics
History of differential equations
History of human thermodynamics
History thermodynamics
Timeline of thermodynamics

1. Short history of thermodynamics (by Libb Thims) – Wikipedia, cached article, 11 Sept 2007.
2. Gibbs, Willard. (1889). “Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius,” (pg. 262) Proceedings of the American Academy, new series, vol. XVI, pgs. 458-65. In The Scientific Papers of J. Willard Gibbs (Volume II).
3. Clausius, Rudolf. (1879). The Mechanical Theory of Heat (pg. vii), (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan & Co.
4. (a) Tait, Peter G. (1868). Sketch of Thermodynamics. Kessinger Publisher (reprint).
(b) Maxwell, James C. (1878). “Tait’s ‘Thermodynamics’ (I)”, (pgs. 257-59). Nature, Jan. 31.
(c) Maxwell, James C. (1878). “Tait’s ‘Thermodynamics’ (II)”, (pgs. 278-81). Nature, Feb. 07.
5. Rankine, William. (1859). A Manual of the Steam Engine and Other Prime Movers, (chapter III: “Principles of Thermodynamics”, pgs. 299-478). London: Charles Griffin and Co.
6. Muller, Ingo. (2007). A History of Thermodynamics - the Doctrine of Energy and Entropy. New York: Springer.
7. Cesare, Maffioli. (1979). A Strange Science: Materials for a Critical History of Thermodynamics (Una Strana Scienza: Materiali per una Storia Critica Della Termodinamica). Milan: Feltrinelli.
8. Cardwell, Donald S.L. (1971). From Watt to Clausius: the Rise of Thermodynamics in the Early Industrial Age. Cornell University Press.
9. Bejan, Adrian. (2009). “Review: J.D. Lewins, Thermodynamics: Frontiers and Foundations, OECD-NEA.org.

Further reading
● Tait, Peter. (1864). “On the History of Thermodynamics”, Phil. Mag. 28:288-92.
● Clausius, Rudolf. (1872). “A Contribution to the History of the Mechanical Theory of Heat”, Phil. Mag. 43: 106-115.
● Alexander, Peter. (1892). Treatise on Thermodynamics (ch. III: A Short History of Thermodynamics, pgs. 16-28). Longmans, Green.
● Keenan, Joseph H. and Shapiro, Ascher H. (1947). “History and Exposition of the Laws of Thermodynamics”, Mechanical Engineering, 69(Nov):915-21.
● Rabinbach, Anson. (1990). The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press.
● Cheng, K. C. (1992). “Historical Development of the Theory of Heat and Thermodynamics: Review and Some Observations” (abstract), Heat Transfer Engineering, 13: 19-37.
Cobb, Cathy, and Rarold, Goldwhite. (1995). Creations of Fire - Chemistry's Lively History from Alchemy to the Atomic Age. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Publishing.
Baeyer, Hans C. von (1999). Warmth Disperses and Time Passes - the History of Heat. New York: The Modern Library.
Smith, Crosbie. (1998). The Science of Energy - a Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume Two), (preview), (Ch. 11: "Affinity and Free Energy", pgs. 422-68). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
● Nag, P.K. (2010). “History of Thermodynamics”, in: Basic and Applied Thermodynamics, section 1.11, (pgs. 10-). by P. K. Nag. Tata McGraw-Hill.
● Sandler, Stanley I. and Woodcock, Leslie V. (2010). “Historical Observations on Laws of Thermodynamics”, J. Chem. Eng. Data, Aug.

External links
History of thermodynamics – Wikipedia.
History of thermodynamics (notes) – WolframScience.com.

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Anonymous New Fourth law of thermodynamics. 3 Mar 20 2014, 6:16 PM EDT by Björn_sponberg
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I have developed my own version of Fourth law of thermodynamics (not for fun). As other fourth laws it involves evolution. Basically it states that universal energy states are directly coupled to the biologic phenotypes love and evil. Here are some links:
infosite: http://headbiotech.wordpress.com/
Power point presentation: http://youtu.be/TXYuvRqB6ys

Björn Sponberg
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Anonymous violations of the 2nd law 1 Dec 15 2009, 9:19 AM EST by Sadi-Carnot
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the 2nd law of thermodynamics can be violated and free energy is real. I don't need to prove it. you know it to be true. more info at http://conrado.50gigs.net
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