Basic ideas

  • Tony Guénault
Part of the Student Physics Series book series (SPS)


There is an obvious problem about getting to grips with an understanding of matter in thermal equilibrium. Let us suppose you are interested (as a designer of saucepans?) in the thermal capacity of copper at 450 K. On the one hand you can turn to thermodynamics, but this approach is of such generality that it is often difficult to see the point. Relationships between the principal heat capacities, the thermal expansion coefficient and the compressibility are all very well, but they do not help you to understand the particular magnitude and temperature dependence of the actual heat capacity of copper. On the other hand, you can see that what is needed is a microscopic mechanical picture of what is going on inside the copper. However, this picture becomes impossibly detailed when one starts to discuss the laws of motion of 1024 or so copper atoms.


Internal Energy Isolate System Distribution Number Thermodynamic Entropy Versus Work 
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Copyright information

© A.M. Guénault 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tony Guénault
    • 1
  1. 1.Lancaster UniversityUK

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