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Understanding Thermodynamics Paperback – Jan 1 1983
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Top Customer Reviews
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
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.Read more ›