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Understanding Thermodynamics Paperback – Jan 1 1983


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Dover edition (Jan. 1 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486632776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486632773
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 14 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Robinson on Feb. 7 2004
Format: Paperback
Some subjects are intuitive, and some subjects are harder to grasp. I have studied engineering and physics for many years and was a professor for eight years. So I already have an understanding of the subject and in fact took graduate courses in physics at MIT in statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics.
So why buy this book. It is not a textbook. If you want to learn the nuts and bolts of thermodynamics buy a second year physics or engineering text and go through the theory and do hundreds of problems. That is how you learn the subject. You will not be able to design a better motor or turbine after reading the present book. You may not even learn much if you do not sit down and spend some time doing problems.
This book and the book by Fermi which is linked at the top of the present page by Amazon.com are sort of intellectual refresher books. Again thermodynamics is not an intuitively obvious subject so it is good to have a refresher from time to time. It is a summary lecture of the field. So I think it is a good book, a nice short book, but actually I prefer the short and perhaps more intuitive book by Fermi on the same subject, so I would rate the Fermi book 5 stars and this just 3 or 4 stars.
In any case, if you buy the book or better still the Fermi book, approach the book as if it were a novel or trip to the movies. Read it with a coke or glass of wine, and enjoy it as a lesson in physics from an expert where you get to think about some concepts from a pure interest and enjoyment perspective. If you do buy the book, you should have completed at least one or two years of science or engineering for maximum impact.
Jack in Toronto
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on Dec 5 2003
Format: Paperback
Understanding Thermodynamics is an exceptional introduction to a subtle and complex topic. The First and Second Law of Thermodynamics are seemingly trivial, and yet an understanding of theoretical and applied thermodynamics often eludes even the best of students. This 100-page overview is much better than the chapter or two on thermodynamics in a first year physics text. It is a more lucid and interesting discussion than is even found in Feynman's Lectures in Physics, Volume 1.
H. C. Van Ness, a professor of chemical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and expert in thermodynamics, approaches his subject in an uniquely interesting fashion, stressing that the First and Second Law are assumptions based on empirical data. They are fundamental statements that cannot be derived from other principles.
In chapter 1 Van Ness borrows a humorous analogy from Feynman to explain the reasonableness of the abstract concept of internal energy and the relationship between internal energy, heat, and work.
Chapter 2 introduces the concept of reversibility, and explains its fundamental importance to thermodynamics. In doing so he carefully exposes our underlying assumptions.
In chapter 3, titled Heat Engines, Van Ness emphasizes that the reversible process represents the limiting behavior of actual systems, the best that we can hope for. Also, in most cases we are not even able to make calculations unless we simplify our problem by assuming that our system exhibits reversibility. Van Ness carefully explains the basic engineering calculations for both the Otto engine cycle and the Carnot theoretical heat engine.
In chapter 4 Van Ness guides the reader carefully through detailed thermodynamic analysis of a large scale power plant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ken Braithwaite on Nov. 3 2000
Format: Paperback
Thermo is hard for two reasons. The equations are messy, and the properties are so abstract. Van Ness deals directly and only with the second problem. His discussion of energy functions and energy transformations just as rules between observables is very helpful. Using that notion to get at what he means by a property and then making entropy understandable as a PROPERTY of a system is the core of much of the book. The derivation of some basic stuff in statistical mechanics is quite clear, and the logical relationship to classical thermo is very clear. An index would be nice.
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By A Customer on Aug. 19 1999
Format: Paperback
I would recommend this book highly to anyone who wants to learn thermodynamics. Van Ness uses very good analogies to illustrate some of the theoretical concepts.
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By N Jensen on Dec 5 2001
Format: Paperback
Concise descriptions of thermodynamics. Don't waste time with longer books. Some topics are not covered but this is a great place to start.
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