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The Second Law Of Thermodynamics

  1. Jun 13, 2004 #1
    I'm glad they passed this law because without it, your coffee spoons would never cool off.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2004 #2
    Cite your favorite piece of physics legislation, and explain why it's your favorite.
     
  4. Jun 13, 2004 #3

    enigma

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    The law of universal gravitation.

    Without it, the universe would be a pretty boring place. There'd be no reason to go anywhere...
     
  5. Jun 13, 2004 #4
    zoobyshoe,

    That's a tough one; thre are so many great ones!

    The speed of light in a vacuum is always observed to be c. The perfect symmetry it implies between the two most fundamental things about the universe, space and time, is exquisite!

    But then, there's the uncertainty principle...

    Like I said, it's a tough one!
     
  6. Jun 13, 2004 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    I am most thrilled that the physical constants are what they are. Imagine how boring the universe would be if the speed of light was 3 X 10^8 meters per second exactly. Or even worse, imagine if Pi was exactly 3. What would we put on all of those calculator keys?

    Why are the values [edit: really the ratio of these values wrt each other] exactly what they need to be in order for the universe to exist? Obviously they must be what they must, but how did they get that way?
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2004
  7. Jun 13, 2004 #6

    Tom Mattson

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    I, for one, hope that static friction never gets repealed. I would hate to have to blow hard out of my mouth so that I could slide across the floor to get from A to B. :eek:
     
  8. Jun 13, 2004 #7
    but i like my coffee spoons hot :tongue2:
     
  9. Jun 13, 2004 #8
    Yeah, but if they hadn't passed the Second Law of Thermodynamics there would be no rule against all the heat in your house deciding to wander over and congregate in the spoon, heating it to incandescence, and setting your kitchen on fire.
     
  10. Jun 13, 2004 #9

    selfAdjoint

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    I like the law of averages. If we didn't have it everyone would be special. Oh wait....
     
  11. Jun 13, 2004 #10
    I bet there's a long, bloody history of debate and lobbying and behind closed doors deals in some of these cases. I understand the wheeling and dealing at Copenhagen was intense and even furious.
     
  12. Jun 13, 2004 #11
    Ivan Seeking said, "Imagine how boring the universe would be if the speed of light was 3 X 10^8 meters per second exactly."

    If the earth were a little smaller it would be!
     
  13. Jun 13, 2004 #12
    enigma,

    I like your approach:

    "The law of universal gravitation. Without it, the universe would be a pretty boring place. There'd be no reason to go anywhere..."

    And without Newton's 3rd Law, we couldn't get there even if there were a reason.

    And without Coulomb's Law, we couldn't see anything when we got there.

    And without the exclusion principle we wouldn't even be here to worry about all this.

    :smile:
     
  14. Jun 13, 2004 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    On that note, consider Heisenberg's comment on the subject of "The Measurement Problem", from 1927:

     
  15. Jun 13, 2004 #14
    Course, without the Second Law of Thermodynamics, all the heat in the left side of a persons body might accidently shift over to the right side now and then, and we'd have the phenomenon of Spontaneous Human Hemi-Refridgeration. That would be weird.
     
  16. Jun 13, 2004 #15
    This is really silly. The government wouldn't let us down: they'd issue everyone compressed air canisters.
     
  17. Jun 13, 2004 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    not so fast there :biggrin:

     
  18. Jun 13, 2004 #17
    Hehehehehehe.

    You know Garrison Keoller's description of Lake Woebegone, Mn? It's a place "where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the kids are above average."
     
  19. Jun 14, 2004 #18

    Chi Meson

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    The second law gets a lot of press, but I think most people miss the subtlety of the Zeroth Law. This may be the only law of Physics that is actually written in "legalese." After reading it, you're not quite sure what it said, and after you understand it, you're not quite sure why it had to be passed.

    But I did some research on it and I found out that the Zeroth Law was passed because of the import of cheap foreign thermometers! Evidently they would read different random temperatures when taken to different locations and no one knew what to wear. Scientists would dress warmly one day and then find themselves in a ball of sweat after a few hours. Really uncomfortable! So they passed a law that said all thermometers must read the same temperature for any given average molecular kinetic energy. Only for some reason, they had to close up a bunch of loopholes, which is why it reads funny.
     
  20. Jun 14, 2004 #19
    Quite right, Chi Meson, the Zeroth Law stands head and shouders above all others as the legalese masterpiece of physics legislaion. The decision about what to call it, alone, could generate many essays. What do you name a law that ought to preceed the others already named and numbered? The solution arrived at, really, could only have been suggested by a lawyer.
     
  21. Jun 14, 2004 #20

    selfAdjoint

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    Then there's Will Rogers' "When the Okies went from Oklahoma to California they raised the average IQ of both states."
     
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