In thermodynamics, dissipation refers to the process of the loss of mechanical energy or energy in general.

History
The term "dissipation" was introduced, significantly, in the 1852 article “On a Universal Tendency in Nature to the Dissipation of Mechanical Energy” by British physicist and mathematician William Thomson; a phraseology later to be interpreted as the "law of dissipation of energy" [1] In Thomson's view, according to “known facts with reference to the mechanics of animal and vegetable bodies” there is “at present in the material world a universal tendency to the dissipation of mechanical energy” and that “any restoration of mechanical energy, without more than an equivalent of dissipation, is impossible in inanimate material processes, and is probably never effected by means of organized matter, either endowed with vegetable life or subject to the will of an animated creature”. This terminology was later employed by Belgian thermodynamicist Ilya Prigogine in his theory of "dissipative structures". [2]

Difficulties
In the second law work of William Thomson the idea is inferred that the vague idea of the “dissipation of energy” is an alternative yet equivalent to Rudolf Clausius’ “entropy increase” version of the second law of thermodynamics. To this day, the two versions by many are seen as being synonymous. The dissipation of heat, contrary to what Thomson believed, according to science historians Stephen Weininger and Helge Kragh (who cite Edward Daub’s 1970 article “Entropy and Dissipation”), does not correspond to a change in entropy, and in general the dissipation theorem is weaker than the entropy theorem in explaining why some processes occur spontaneously and some do not. [3]

Human thermodynamics
See also: social friction; human friction; human entropy
In regards to how the physical notion of dissipation translated over into human thermodynamic terminology, the extension is a bit blurry.

In 1885, while musing upon the subject of thermodynamics one day, Scottish physicist William Thomson suddenly realized that his wife was discussing plans for an afternoon excursion. "At what time," he asked, glancing up, "does the dissipation of energy begin?" [4]

In recent legal terminologies, the wasting of marital assets through extravagant spending, gambling or excessive borrowing or fraudulent conveyance of a third parties is called dissipation. [5]

References
1. Thomson, William (Lord Kelvin), "On a Universal Tendency in Nature to the Dissipation of Mechanical Energy" (Google Books) (URL), Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh for April 19, 1852, also Philosophical Magazine, Oct. 1852, also Mathematical and Physical Papers, vol. i, art. 59, pp. 511.
2. Perrot, Pierre. (1998). A to Z of Thermodynamics, (pg. 68). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
3. (a) Kragh, Helge and Weininger, Stephen J. (1996). “Sooner Science than Confustion: the Tortuous Entry of Entropy into Chemist” (abs), Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, 27(1): 91-130.
(b) Daub, Edward E. (1970). “Entropy and Dissipation” (abs), Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences, 2: 321-54.
4. (a) Cleveland, Cutler J., and Morris, Chris. (2006). Dictionary of Energy (“At what time does the dissipation of energy begin?” —William Thomson (1885; applying the terminology of his studies of thermodynamics to a question for his wife about their plans for an afternoon walk), pg. 497). Elsevier.
(b) Bell, Eric T. (1999). Men of Mathematics. Turtleback Books.
(c) Entropy (Kelvin) – Anecdotage.com.
5. Dissipation – DiverceDex.com.

External links
‚óŹ Dissipation – Wikipedia.

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