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, and from the unfurling of a leaf to the course of life itself - everything is directed and constrained by four simple laws. They establish fundamental concepts such as temperature and heat, and reveal the arrow of time and even the nature of energy itself. Peter Atkins' powerful and compelling introduction explains what the laws are and how they work, using accessible language and virtually no mathematics. Guiding the reader from the Zeroth Law to the Third Law, he introduces the fascinating concept of entropy, and how it not only explains why your desk tends to get messier, but also how its unstoppable rise constitutes the engine of the universe.
Peter Atkins is the author of about 70 books, including the world-renowned and widely used Physical Chemistry, now in its 10th edition. He won the Grady-Stack award for science journalism in 2016. After graduating from the University of Leicester and a post-doctoral year in the University of California, Los Angeles, he returned to Oxford in 1965 as Fellow of Lincoln College and University Lecturer (later Professor) in physical chemistry. He retired in 2007, but continues to write and lecture worldwide.
Prologue ; 1. THE ZEROTH LAW: the concept of temperature ; 2. THE FIRST LAW: the conservation of energy ; 3. THE SECOND LAW: the increase in entropy ; 4. FREE ENERGY: the availability of work ; 5. THE THIRD LAW: the unattainability of zero ; Conclusion