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Second Law's Interpretation

  1. Mar 11, 2012 #1
    I have this physical chemistry this semester with a very small section on thermodynamics--namely the Second Law and its applications to feasibility of reactions.Because our class is not very familiar with the Second Law(this is our second sem and we were taught only the First Law in school)our professor gave us a brief introduction to the "physics" part of the law.Of course he resorted to the convenient statement of the Second Law:"Every system has an efficiency of less than unity."
    Fair enough,but he proceeded to give an example which perturbed me.He equated the Law to the fact that friction can never be eliminated completely and these are the losses that lead to an efficiency of less than one.He talked of transmission lines and the losses due to i2r heating.He then talked of superconducting materials and how they eliminate such losses.But they require very low temperatures for operation and hence are not isolated systems.So I pointed out that we are working on high temperature superconducting materials(we have a lab for it in our department).So he says that it is not possible to create superconducting materials at room temperatures.If they are created some day,the Second Law will be violated.
    So my question is this,if I come up with a superconducting material at room temperature tomorrow will the Second Law stand violated?

    I had been simultaneously reading the Lectures' take on the Second Law and have drawn the conclusion that all it says is you can not go from an unorganized energy source to an organized one without any cost ie. efficiency of such processes can never be 100%.However if you wish to convert electrical energy into heat you can go 100%.The Law does not say anything about friction or dissipation work being the fundamental reason we have efficiency of less than 1.

    I could be wrong in my own interpretation or the way I see the particular problem.But I want to know without the context of this problem,if we were to create a superconducting material at room temperature with R strictly zero,will the Second Law be violated?
  2. jcsd
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