A Layman’s Explanation of Two Laws of Thermodynamics
Energy is encountered in many forms, such as mechanical, chemical (food and fuel), electrical, nuclear, heat, and radiant (light). Energy has the ability to bring about change or to do work. Thermodynamics is the study of energy. The field of thermodynamics studies the behavior of energy flow in natural systems. These studies have rendered two laws of thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics is also known as the law of conservation of energy. This law suggests that energy can be transferred from one system to another in many forms. Also, it cannot be created or destroyed, (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2012). Ultimately, the total amount of energy available is a constant. Einstein’s equation, , describes the relationship between energy and matter. In the equation, energy (E) is equal to matter (m) times the square of a constant (c). Energy and matter are interchangeable in Einstein’s equation and due to the constant the equation also indicates that there is a fixed quantity of energy and matter, (Boulle, 2012). The second law of thermodynamics is also known as the second law of energy. Because of the first law, where energy cannot be created nor destroyed, one might be led to think there will always be a store of energy. In looking at the second law of energy, it explains how energy differs in its quality or ability to do useful work. In order for useful work to occur, energy must go from a level of high-quality energy (which is more concentrated), to a level of lower-quality (less concentrated) energy. The second law also tells us that high-quality energy can never be used again. The natural processes that involve the transfer of energy must have at least one direction, and that all natural processes are irreversible, (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2012). The reason a barrel of oil can only be used as a fuel, is explained by the second law of thermodynamics. The law explains that once a high-quality energy...
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