Entropic Creation : Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and by Helge S. Kragh

By Helge S. Kragh

"Entropic construction" is the 1st English-language publication to contemplate the cultural and non secular responses to the second one legislations of thermodynamics, from round 1860 to 1920. in line with the second one legislation of thermodynamics, as formulated by means of the German physicist Rudolf Clausius, the entropy of any closed approach will unavoidably elevate in time, that means that the approach will decay and at last lead to a useless kingdom of equilibrium. software of the legislation to the whole universe, first proposed within the 1850s, ended in the prediction of a destiny 'heat death', the place all existence has ceased and all association dissolved.In the overdue 1860s it used to be mentioned that, due to the warmth dying state of affairs, the universe could have existed just for a finite time period. based on the 'entropic production argument', thermodynamics warrants the realization that the area as soon as began or was once created. it truly is those eventualities, allegedly outcomes of the technology of thermodynamics, which shape the middle of this book.The warmth demise and the declare of cosmic production have been commonly mentioned within the interval 1870 to 1920, with members within the debate together with eu scientists, intellectuals and social critics, between them the physicist William Thomson and the communist philosopher Friedrich Engels. One explanation for the fervour of the talk used to be that a few authors used the legislation of entropy raise to argue for a divine production of the realm. therefore, the second one legislation of thermodynamics grew to become hugely arguable. In Germany specifically, materialists and positivists engaged in conflict with Christian - normally Catholic - students over the cosmological effects of thermodynamics.This heated debate, that is this day principally forgotten, is reconstructed and tested intimately during this booklet, bringing into concentration key issues at the interactions among cosmology, physics, faith and beliefs, and the general public manner within which those issues have been mentioned within the latter 1/2 the 19th and the 1st years of the 20th century.

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Extra resources for Entropic Creation : Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology (Science, Technology and Culture, 1700-1945)

Sample text

Moigno collaborated with and inspired the French physicist and engineer Marc Séguin, one of the contributors to the discovery of the equivalence of heat and mechanical force. Several of Séguin’s papers, published in Cosmos and elsewhere, contained references to the creative power of God. 46 Thomson 1882, p. 514. See also James 1982. 47 Helmholtz 1995, p. 30. , p. 43. See also Koenigsberger 1902-03, vol. 1, pp. 211-8. An English translation appeared as ‘On the interaction of natural forces’, Philosophical Magazine 11 (1856), 489518.

Although the energy is conserved, it has become dissipated in the sense that the system’s capacity to perform mechanical or other work has diminished. Contrary to what Thomson believed, the dissipation of heat does not exactly 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. 29 Whatever its version, by the late 1850s thermodynamics was practically complete and its significance widely recognized.

Rather than making direct use of the entropy function one may use the concept of ‘free energy’ introduced by Helmholtz in 1882. If E is the total energy of a system, Helmholtz’s free energy F is defined as F = E – TS, where TS = E – F is what Helmholtz called the ‘bound energy’. For an isothermal process, an increase in entropy corresponds to a decrease in free energy. 28 His dissipation referred to a situation in which two bodies at different temperatures placed in contact transfer heat from the warmer to the colder without work being done.

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