Significance of 1st Law of Thermodynamics Essay

628 WordsMay 2, 20153 Pages
Suppose one day after the watching weather forecast you decide to look up the word ‘hotness in the dictionary. Hotness, in the dictionary, means ‘high temperature’; but as you are trying to seek the real meaning behind the word ‘temperature’, you ends up getting ‘the degree of hotness’ – you are running into circular definitions. Obviously the dictionary does not do a good job in helping the spread of scientific knowledge. But as a collection of vocabulary the dictionary reflects our perception of ‘heat’ and ‘temperature’ of the world around us. For thousands of years human has lived in a world where the perception of heat and temperature comes from our senses – when the object is hot, we say it processes heat; and temperature, as an indicator of ‘hotness’, is of course, equivalent to heat. We define heat in such an intuitive way that matches perfectly with our daily experiences. Yet, the circular argument remains unsolved: what precisely are heat and temperature? This question can be answered by the zeroth law of thermodynamics. The definition may seem intuitive. But think of a similar situation. Suppose A and B are friends, B and C are friends, it does not imply that A and C are friends. Hence, there must be something fundamental yet not intuitive in the concept of temperature, and it is precisely this quality that makes ‘degree of hotness’ quantifiable. In fact, the zeroth law establishes thermal equilibrium as an equivalence relationship, in short, the zeroth law divides thermodynamic systems into distinct groups. When object A belongs to a group of a particular temperature, it cannot be included into that of another temperature – in other words, the establishment of the zeroth law of thermodynamics allows objects under the same temperature to be tagged uniquely, in comparison with objects with a different temperature. Hence, the quantity ‘temperature’ can be

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