Thermodynamics smell of their human origin
Posted by HSCI-3023 - Blog | On 26 February,2016 | In Uncategorized
“The laws of thermodynamics smell of their human origin.”
I found that this quote, by P.W. Bridgman, to be accurate due to the fact that the origins of thermodynamics were discovered through the exploitation by humans for various benefits. There are three laws of thermodynamics, the first of which is a variation of the law of conservation of energy. It states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed but transferred in one form to another. There are two ways that energy can be transferred, through heat or work. Heat energy is constantly being exploited by humans to provide warmth, cook food, and various other activities. To obtain heat energy, some process must be preformed that converts existing energy to heat, which can be obtained through human intervention.
This leads to the second law of thermodynamics which states that the entropy (randomness) of the universe only increases. The way that this law could have originated is by human manipulation of processes to obtain heat energy, which contributes to the increasing entropy of the universe. The third law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of a system at absolute zero is zero. This is the only law of thermodynamics that I have difficulty translating into human origin. However, most systems at equilibrium must be maintained by various factors contributing to the equilibrium of that system, which can be most easily be maintained artificially through various human techniques. As Christian von Baeyer has said in his novel, Warmth Disperses and Time Passes – The History of Heat, the true nature of thermodynamics was discovered accidentally, and in, of all places, a cannon manufacturing plant. The origins were discovered through accidental human exploitation and since this beginning,the laws of thermodynamics main purpose was to provide guidelines to humans on how to manipulate systems to their advantage. Although the laws themselves are purely scientific, the origins were purely for human benefit.