Talk:Thermodynamics

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Former good article Thermodynamics was one of the Natural sciences good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
January 16, 2006 Good article nominee Listed
June 17, 2009 Good article reassessment Delisted
Current status: Delisted good article
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Thermodynamics of small systems[edit]

How about including a section with this title? Thermodynamics only applies in the limit of number of constituents goes to infinity (the thermodynamic limit). As systems get small, the laws of classical thermodynamics break down and other equations have to be used instead. Quantities that are constant in classic thermodynamics become stochastic variables (right?). I think that a section discussing this would help make the transition between the behavior of single molecules and that of macroscopic systems clearer (I would certainly appreciate it).

For references, Hill's classic "Thermodynamics of small systems" is almost impossible to obtain. I have found an open access article by John Rowlinson, whose authority cannot be doubted, however it is not as focussed as I'd like. I also found a nice little open access article in PNAS on the thermodynamics of single protein molecules. We need some better candidates, IMHO. Surely there must be a recent review?

What do you think of this idea? AlanParkerFrance (talk) 10:58, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

For my part I suggest it may be difficult to define what a small thermodynmic system is. Thermodynamics is the physics of particles and their interactions, the relevant physical interactions are independent of the systen size. Obviously as the sample size decreases the variation in the measurements such as e.g. pressure must deviate increasingly from the mean. For pressure this variation shows up as random accoustic noise. --Damorbel (talk) 12:04, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

branch of physics[edit]

Here editor 86.158.238.108 has changed the overarching subject named from natural science to physics. I am indifferent about this, but I note that some would say that thermodynamics is also a branch of chemistry and some might say that it is also a branch of engineering. The link to natural science was there for that reason. I have no intention of trying to change the overarching subject named. I don't know if anyone else cares about it.Chjoaygame (talk) 01:07, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

I have reverted that change. You are right. --Bduke (Discussion) 02:16, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

surroundings and environment[edit]

There is a new edit by Editor Zedshort that changes the word 'surroundings' to the word 'environment', with links to an article Environment (systems). That article is more like a dictionary entry than an encyclopaedia article. The sole reference in that article is to Richard Dawkins, not a book about thermodynamics.

The cited references in the present article on thermodynamics are Guggenheim and Kondepudi. On page 9, Guggenheim writes "... the rest of the universe (its surroundings)" twice. On page 4, Kondepudi writes "... dividing the world into a 'system' and its 'exterior'". Looking a little further, I find Bailyn on page 20 writing of a "uniform environment". I find Adkins on page 4 writing that "Everything outside the system is called the surroundings". I find Callen on page 15 writing of the "“walls” that separate it [the system] from its surroundings." Planck on page 114 writes of "such changes in the surrounding medium". On page 108, Pippard writes "If the system is open to the surroundings ...". On page 127 Partington writes: "All things outside the system are spoken of as external bodies. ... so that no heat or work can be exchanged with the surroundings." Kirkwood & Oppenheim on page 1 write "The surroundings are the rest of the physical world. ... An isolated system has no interactions with the surroundings." On page 6, the translator of Münster writes "A system is called closed when it can exchange energy with its surroundings but cannot exchange matter ..."Chjoaygame (talk) 22:24, 12 January 2014 (UTC)

article structure comment in Introduction[edit]

The end of the Introduction section has the following statement

"The present article takes a gradual approach to the subject, starting with a focus on cyclic processes and thermodynamic equilibrium, and then gradually beginning to further consider non-equilibrium systems."

Is it right to describe an Encyclopedia article as if it is a textbook chapter? J mareeswaran (talk) 13:17, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Thermodynamics is a large subject. The purpose of the sentence is to alert the reader to the logical structure of the article. It starts with a particularly simple case and then moves to the more general.Chjoaygame (talk) 04:53, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

undid good faith edit; reason[edit]

I removed the new image of a steam engine. The image is colourful, juicy, and interesting. It might well relieve the rather dry nature of thermodynamics. But I think not suitable for where it was posted.

The reason is that the image is very much a moving picture. Classical thermodynamics, the main topic of the article, is essentially about states of thermodynamic equilibrium, in which the kind of movement in the image has ceased. The moving image would give the reader a false sense of direction. Classical thermodynamics is used in the consideration of such movement, but only as an idealized limiting case. It is misleading to present an idealized limiting case as if it were typical.Chjoaygame (talk) 05:33, 12 April 2015 (UTC)