Joseph Kestin nsIn thermodynamics, Joseph Kestin (1913-1993) was a Polish-born American mechanical engineer noted for his 1966 textbook A Course in Thermodynamics. [1]

Kestin states that his interest in thermodynamics was aroused during a circa 1945 translation of German engineer Ernst Schmidt’s Thermodynamics. Other thermodynamicists that were influential to Kestin in the writing of his textbook include: Max Planck, Theory of Heat (1897), Joseph Keenan, Thermodynamics (1941), Arnold Sommerfeld, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (1956), A. H. Wilson, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (1957), Herbert Callen, Thermodynamics (1960), Mark Zemansky, Thermodynamics (1943), and Howard Reiss, Methods of Thermodynamics (1965). [2]

In ecological thermodynamics, from Kestin’s textbook, what has come to be known as the “unified principle of thermodynamics” states that: [3] “when an isolated system performs a process after the removal of a series of internal constraints, it will reach a unique state of equilibrium: this state of equilibrium is independent of the order in which the constraints are removed.” This statement is, supposedly, also attributed to the 1965 work of George Hatsopoulos and Joseph Keenan. [4] Kestin is also noted for completing the post-humorous English translation of German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld’s Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics. [5]

Kestin completed his undergraduate work at the Technical University of Warsaw, Poland, in 1937. Soon thereafter he began graduate work at Kings College, London, but then in a late summer visit to Warsaw he was sent to a Russian prisoner-of-war camp and was not released to serve with the Allies until 1941. He completed his PhD, thesis “High Speed Flow of Gases through Channels”, at the Imperial College London in the mid 1940s. [6] He joined Brown University in 1952 as an engineering professor and was the director of Brown’s Center for Energies Studies up till 1984, after which he worked as a research professor. Kestin published over 250 research papers in thermodynamics and five books. [7]

The following are noted quotes:

“The subject [thermodynamics] cannot be fathomed in all its profundity in a single pass.”
— Joseph Kestin (1979), A Course in Thermodynamics (xix)

1. Sengers, J.V. and Wakeham, W.A. (1993). “A Tribute to Joseph Kestin (1913-1993)” (abstract) International Journal of Thermophysics Vol. 14, No. 4, July, pgs. 613-18.
2. (a) Kestin, Joseph. (1966). A Course in Thermodynamics (Preface, pgs. vii-ix). London: Blaisdell Publishing Co.
(b) Ernst Schmidt (1892-1975) (biography) – Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas, Austin.
3. Jorgensen, Seven E. and Muller, Felix. (2000). Handbook of Ecosystem Theories and Management (pg. 137). CRC Press.
4. Schneider, Eric D. and Sagan, Dorion. (2005). Into the Cool - Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life (pg. 75). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
5. Sommerfeld, Arnold. (1956). Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics: Lectures on Theoretical Physics (pg. 19). Vol. V., trans. by Joseph Kestin. Academic Press.
6. Drucker, Daniel C. (1994). “Joseph Kestin: 1913-1993”, Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 7.
7. Anon. (1993). “Joseph Kestin is Dead; Brown Professor, 79.” New York Times, March 19.

Further reading
● Kestin, Joseph (editor). (1976). The Second Law of Thermodynamics (Benchmark Papers on Energy). Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross.
● Kestin, Joseph. (1979). A Course in Thermodynamics: Revised Printing (Volume Two) (chs. 12-22). Taylor & Francis.

External links
Kestin, Joseph –

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