What is Second law of thermodynamics: Definition and 17 Discussions

The second law of thermodynamics establishes the concept of entropy as a physical property of a thermodynamic system. Entropy predicts the direction of spontaneous processes, and determines whether they are irreversible or impossible, despite obeying the requirement of conservation of energy, which is established in the first law of thermodynamics. The second law may be formulated by the observation that the entropy of isolated systems left to spontaneous evolution cannot decrease, as they always arrive at a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, where the entropy is highest. If all processes in the system are reversible, the entropy is constant. An increase in entropy accounts for the irreversibility of natural processes, often referred to in the concept of the arrow of time.Historically, the second law was an empirical finding that was accepted as an axiom of thermodynamic theory. Statistical mechanics provides a microscopic explanation of the law in terms of probability distributions of the states of large assemblies of atoms or molecules. The second law has been expressed in many ways. Its first formulation, which preceded the proper definition of entropy and was based on caloric theory, is Carnot's theorem, credited to the French scientist Sadi Carnot, who in 1824 showed that the efficiency of conversion of heat to work in a heat engine has an upper limit. The first rigorous definition of the second law based on the concept of entropy came from German scientist Rudolph Clausius in the 1850s including his statement that heat can never pass from a colder to a warmer body without some other change, connected therewith, occurring at the same time.
The second law of thermodynamics can also be used to define the concept of thermodynamic temperature, but this is usually delegated to the zeroth law of thermodynamics.

View More On Wikipedia.org
  1. cianfa72

    I Feynman's Brownian Ratchet analysis

    Hi, as in a previous thread I would like to better understand the Feynman's analysis of brownian ratchet as described here: https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_46.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownian_ratchet Consider the case in which the two boxes (i.e. heat baths) are at the same...
  2. cianfa72

    I An experiment against the second law of thermodynamics

    Hi, soppose we have a resistor at a given temperature T connected through a diode to a cell battery. The voltage accross the resistor due to thermal noise should charge the cell converting termal energy into chemical energy without limits. Does the above process violate the second law of...
  3. V

    B Entropy change for reversible and irreversible processes

    I came across the following statement from the book Physics for Engineering and Science (Schaum's Outline Series). I cannot seem to find a satisfactory answer to the questions. Is the statement in above screenshot talking about entropy change the statement of Second Law of Thermodynamics or is...
  4. cianfa72

    I About Reversible vs Irreversible Gas Compression and Expansion Work

    Hi, reading the interesting Reversible vs Irreversible Gas Compression and Expansion Work insight by @Chestermiller I would like to ask for clarification on some points. In the second bullet at the beginning my understanding is as follows: consider an ideal gas contained in a cylinder...
  5. cianfa72

    I Entropy change due to heat transfer between sources

    Hi, starting for this thread Question about entropy change in a reservoir consider the spontaneous irreversible process of heat transfer from a source ##A## at temperature ##T_h## to another source ##B## at temperature ##T_c## (##T_h > T_c##). The thermodynamic 'system' is defined from sources...
  6. Amaterasu21

    I How Does Relativity of Simultaneity Clash w/Thermodynamics?

    In special relativity, observers can disagree on the order of events - if Alice thinks events A, B and C are simultaneous, Bob can think A happened before B which happened before C, and Carlos thinks C happened before B which happened before A - provided A, B and C are not causally connected, of...
  7. C

    How is the 2nd law of thermodynamics obeyed in this system?

    Imagine there is an radiation concentrator (winston cone) surrounded with extremely many layers of foil for radiation insulation, except at the smaller opening. Every part of the setup is initially in thermal equilibrium with the surroundings. The amount of thermal radiation flowing through the...
  8. weezy

    Entropy as a measure of energy gradient?

    This video explains the entropy concept as in terms of useless and useful energy. My question is how is this concluded from say Clausius' statement of 2nd law of thermodynamics which states that there can exist no cycle that transfers heat from A to B without producing any other effect. I...
  9. Charlie313

    I Decoherence and time reversal asymmetry

    Layman question(s), but I hope not too stoopid -- many thanks to anyone with the patience to read and attempt even part of an answer, or share a possibly relevant link! I've got time today to follow and read links... 1) Saw a recent 'popular' article discussing that darn Cat as if still a...
  10. S

    1st law, 2nd law, entropy by Gyftopoulos / Beretta is confusing

    I'm reading Thermodynamics: Foundations and Applications by Gyftoploulos and Beretta, because the authors claim to give a presentation of classical thermodynamics without "... the lack of logical consistency and completeness in the many presentations of the foundations of thermodynamics" [from...
  11. H

    Non-Linear optics vs The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

    Hi, rank newbie here, with my first post. This one is something I figure every first year student comes up with at some point, but I don't know enough keywords to Search for an answer. (I'm not a student except in the category "of life": this isn't assigned homework) I figger, using a bit of...
  12. Cora

    Ideal Gas Expansion State Properties & Exergy Balance

    Homework Statement Two well-insulated rigid tanks of equal volume, tank A and tank B, are connected via a valve. Tank A is initially empty. Tank B has 2 kg of Argon at 350 K and 5000 kPa. The valve is opened and the Argon fills both tanks. State 2 is the final equilibrium state. The temperature...
  13. P

    Acoustic horns and impedance matching

    I found a fast solenoid valve lying around (~1ms rise time) so I thought it would be fun to hook up to a compressed air line and use to generate some really loud bass. I hooked it up to a function generator and air supply only to find that it was disappointingly quiet (well not quiet, but...
  14. A

    Another contradiction in thermodynamics?

    Consider an ideal gas operating in a quasi-static (very slow) cycle that is identical to the heat engine version of the carnot cycle in every aspect, except that friction is present. So even though the cycle is quasi-static, it is irreversible due to friction. Now the question is: How does the...
  15. A

    Heat engine that violates Second law of thermodynamics?

    What does the P-V diagram for a cycle that violates the Kelvin Planck statement of the second law of thermodynamics look like? Would you say we cannot draw such a diagram BECAUSE of the second law?
  16. A

    Why the Carnot Cycle? | Understanding Efficiency in Heat Engines

    1-Is the efficiency of heat engines working in cycles other than Carnot independent of the nature of substance used? Can we still claim that maximum efficiency in converting heat to work is attained during reversible processes for such cycles? For which engines/cycles can we do this? 2- Why is...
  17. J

    Hello to all free thinkers

    I am interested not in parroting: any negative change of entropy is in open systems compensated by still higher entropy increase when no such mechanism is specified.