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Maxwell's Demon: Why Warmth Disperses and Time Passes

Von Baeyer, Hans Christian

107 valutazioni da GoodReads
ISBN 10: 0679433422 / ISBN 13: 9780679433422
Editore: Random House, 1999
Usato Condizione very good
Da Nearfine Books (Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.) Quantità: 1
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Gently used. Expect delivery in 20 days. Codice inventario libreria 9780679433422-3

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Riassunto:

You arrive at your office and unpack your breakfast from the local deli. The piping-hot coffee and chilly orange juice you purchased just minutes ago are now both disappointingly lukewarm. Why can't the coffee "steal" heat from the juice to stay hot? Why does even the most state-of-the-art car operate at a mere 30 percent efficiency--and why can't Detroit ever better the odds, no matter what space age materials we invent? Why can't some genius make a perpetual motion machine? The answers lie in the field of thermodynamics, the study of heat, which turns out to be the key to an astonishing number of scientific puzzles.
        If you want to know what's happening in the physical world, you've got to follow the heat. In Maxwell's Demon: Why Warmth Disperses and Time Passes, physics professor Hans Christian von Baeyer tells the story of heat through the lives of the scientists who discovered it, most notably James Clerk Maxwell, whose demonic invention has bedeviled generations of physics students with its light-fingered attempts to flout the laws of thermodynamics. An intelligent, submicroscopic gremlin who could sort atoms as they
flew at him, Maxwell's Demon would effectively make an impossible task--forcing heat to flow backward--possible. Explaining why the Demon can't have his day has been an intellectual gauntlet taken up by a century and a half of the world's most brilliant scientists, whose discoveries Professor von Baeyer vividly etches.
        The centuries-old discipline of thermodynamics informs today's most cutting-edge research in chaos, complexity, and the grand unified theory of everything--physics' Holy Grail. Even more amazing, the study of heat turns out to explain something seemingly unrelated--time, and why it can run in only one direction.
        With his trademark elegant prose, eye for lively detail, and gift for lucid explanation, Professor von Baeyer turns the contemplation of a cooling teacup into a beguiling portrait of the birth of a science with relevance to almost every aspect of our lives. Readers will find themselves rooting for Maxwell's ever-mischievous Demon even as they come to appreciate that he is doomed to failure.

Recensione: What's the most depressing law of physics? Why, the second law of thermodynamics, of course! In a nutshell: entropy (or disorder) is always increasing, leading to the inevitable "heat death of the universe." Quite a dismal prospect, but even the most optimistic don't expect to be around when it all ends, long after our sun burns out. In Maxwell's Demon: Why Warmth Disperses and Time Passes, physics professor Hans Christian von Baeyer tells the story of the discovery and development of the second law of thermodynamics. The book is named for James Clerk Maxwell's little imaginary genius, who could make your latte boil out of your travel mug given a chance. Von Baeyer treats us to a wide-ranging survey of the early days of thermodynamics, the demon's multiple deaths and rebirths, and an explanation of why entropy's not such a bad thing after all.

Von Baeyer has a terrific knack for knowing what's interesting about his topic and sharing that interest through examples, quotations, and personal stories. Whether you're reading about the exploits of Count Rumford, who established that heat is not a substance, or the author's daughters, who perform hundreds of coin flips to satisfy themselves about the statistical nature of reality, you'll pick up the author's enthusiasm for science and thermodynamics. The broad scope, covering over 700 years in just over 200 pages, serves its subject well, as the law took a long time to reach its present form. If you're looking for a fascinating scientific history, or just an excuse for a messy room, Maxwell's Demon is the right choice. --Rob Lightner

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Dati bibliografici

Titolo: Maxwell's Demon: Why Warmth Disperses and ...

Casa editrice: Random House

Data di pubblicazione: 1999

Condizione libro: very good

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