Raymond A. Serway and John W. Jewett. “Physics for Scientists and Engineers with modern physics“, 8th edition, Brooks/Cole, Belmont, USA (2010)
Part 3. Thermodynamics
HEAT ENGINES, ENTROPY AND THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS
The first law of thermodynamics, which we studied in the first session, is a statement of conservation of energy and is a special-case reduction of Equation 8.2. This law states that a change in internal energy in a system can occur as a result of energy transfer by heat, by work, or by both. Although the first law of thermodynamics is very important, it makes no distinction between processes that occur spontaneously and those that do not. Only certain types of energy conversion and energy transfer processes actually take place in nature, however. The second law of thermodynamics, the major topic in this chapter, establishes which processes do and do not occur. The following are examples of processes that do not violate the first law of thermodynamics if they proceed in either direction, but are observed in reality to proceed in only one direction:
- When two objects at different temperatures are placed in thermal contact with each other, the net transfer of energy by heat is always from the warmer object to the cooler object, never from the cooler to the warmer.
- A rubber ball dropped to the ground bounces several times and eventually comes to rest, but a ball lying on the ground never gathers internal energy from the ground and begins bouncing on its own.
- An oscillating pendulum eventually comes to rest because of collisions with air molecules and friction at the point of suspension. The mechanical energy of the system is converted to internal energy in the air, the pendulum, and the suspension; the reverse conversion of energy never occurs.
All these processes are irreversible; that is, they are processes that occur naturally in one direction only. No irreversible process has ever been observed to run backward. If it were to do so, it would violate the second law of thermodynamics.