Synopses & Reviews
Only in the early 19th century did scientists recognize that energy is a distinct physical quality. Since then however, it has played a pivotal role in the advancement and the understanding of science and in technology. From the steam engine to the equation e=mc2 and beyond, the concept of energy offers an essential key to our understanding of the Universe. In this entertaining and highly readable book, Professor Laidler explains the concept of energy and its characteristics as they were discovered over the past two centuries. He describes how energy transformations as interpreted by the second law of thermodynamics are not absolute but can only be understood in terms of chance and probability. After looking at energy on a small scale and then at the scale of the Universe itself, he shows how these topics are linked with chaos theory according to which the unexpected is inevitable.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -142) and index.
About the Author
Keith J. Laidler is Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Ottawa. He has received many honours and awards and is the author of several textbooks on physical chemistry.
Table of Contents
A few points about mathematics
1. Steam engines and artillery
2. Red blood and electric motors
3. Steam engines revisited
4. The second law of thermodynamics
5. Maxwell's demon
6. Chance and the distribution of energy
7. Packets of energy
8. Energy equals mc2
9. Energy and the universe
10. Chaos: the science of the unexpected