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Understanding Thermodynamics (Dover Books on Physics) Paperback – January 1, 1983

ISBN-13: 978-0486632773 ISBN-10: 0486632776 Edition: Dover ed

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Physics
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Dover ed edition (January 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486632776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486632773
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This thin book is a must-have for anyone who wants to understand thermodynamics.
Utah Blaine
This is a very short book but does the best job I have seen so far of explaining thermodynamics concepts like entropy.
Maggie Essington
It will be helpfull for its purpose. easy way to learn the topic of acrilic painting.
JOSE M BASAGOITI CAYCOYA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wischmeyer on December 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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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Ken Braithwaite on November 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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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By hpde on May 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent conceptual introduction to thermodynamics. It helps you to get the "big picture" without getting into mathematical details. The first few chapters are suitable for high-school students that are interested in the fundamental concepts and laws of thermodynamics.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By TomCosmic on January 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Van Ness cures the common problem of vapid thermodynamics texts by clearly explaining the basics and then stopping.

His little book is an easy read, and firmly roots the student in the reality of what thermodynamic laws and equations actually mean. Most importantly, van Ness repeatedly makes clear that thermodynamics is about imaginary processes that will never occur in real machines.

This should be the first week's read of every course in thermo.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Utah Blaine on February 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This thin book is a must-have for anyone who wants to understand thermodynamics. A better title for this book may be `Thermodynamics Companion'. This it not a stand alone text, but a supplement to a text book or more advanced reference. This author explains in detail (and without a lot of mathematical mumbo-jumbo) the basics of thermodynamics. It is geared toward the advanced undergraduate or beginning graduate student in engineering or physics who wants to understand thermo. The mathematics is simple (anyone with a little knowledge of calculus can handle it), so the reader won't get bogged down in the equations. If you really want to get a handle on what thermo means (beyond just manipulating equations), this would be a great place to start. This book contains the best discussion of entropy that I've ever found. The notion of entropy is a difficult one for many new to thermo. It is easy to learn how to manipulate the equations, another thing to really understand what they mean. The latter is the author's goal in this book, and he has succeeded. At less than $8, this is a no-brainer.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rudolf Dankwort on August 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
First, skip over the silly introductory analogy of a little kid playing with marbles or whatever. But then it gets good. Aside from introducing an equation (p.28) including the variable S without even defining, let alone explaining, it, the 1st and 2nd law are explained very lucidly and with much care (I am a graduate electrical engineer with a full-semester thermodynamics course under my belt who's forgotten most of the subject). Entropy is very well dealt with. The last part of the book deals with thermodynamics vs statistical mechanics & there it gets pretty rough. I didn't try to assimilate too much of that part, not being as intetersted, but it's rigorous and doubtlessly also a fine exposition.

This book is certainly worth the small price and a chunk of your time.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Raymond E. Conroy on January 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Who knew that thermodynamics could actually be entertaining? This book is a joy to read regardless of your technical background or interests. It isn't meant to be a text, or even a demonstration of the subject's importance, but, rather, an invocation of the sheer wonder that can lie in the most mundane things if only you can look at them from the viewpoint that thermodynamics offers.
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