A Very Short Introduction to Thermodynamics: The Science of What is Possible

9:30-11:30 a.m. 6-week course begins 3/11

In this course you will learn what the four “laws” of thermodynamics have to tell you about what temperature, energy, heat, work, and entropy mean to the physicist. You will also discover the answers to questions of practical value—for example how heat pumps, air conditioners, and refrigerators work, and which to buy; or, why rubber bands are stretchy when they are warm, but less so when cold; or, whether turning the heat down at night makes sense. One textbook author claims that an understanding of thermodynamics will enrich the everyday experiences of your life. Prerequisites: What you learned about mathematics in elementary school will serve you well enough; a course in chemistry or physics somewhere in school will be helpful, but is not necessary. Required Book: There are two versions of the text: (1) Peter Atkins, The Laws of Thermodynamics, ISBN 978-0199572199 (small format, small print size) and (2) Peter Atkins, Four Laws That Drive the Universe, ISBN 978-0199232369 (normal format and print size). Students should purchase only one.

Jonathan Mitschele  has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Riverside. He taught chemistry and physics at Saint Joseph’s  College in Standish, Maine, for more than 30 years. MSC.

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