Entropy, Reversibility, Irreversibility And Thermodynamic Cycles
Abstract
Following thoughts occasioned by the writings of Tait during the nineteenth century, attention here returns to the importance of cycles in the development of thermodynamics. Considering its practicallybased beginnings, it sometimes seems surprising that so many students experience so much difficulty with this subject. Some, at least, of the confusion seems to arise through the introduction of the notion of entropy into the development of the subject—this the one quantity to which, within thermodynamics, it is difficult to give a physical interpretation. In this article, the development of thermodynamics is reviewed in an attempt to highlight the problems arising and offer some insight into their possible resolution. Problems associated with terms such as reversibility and irreversibility are addressed also and, once again, attention is drawn to those extremely lucid writings of earlier years. An appendix is included also in which the whole problem of reversibility and irreversibility such as emerges from the writings of Clausius and Tait is examined.
 Publication:

Search for Fundamental Theory: The VII International Symposium Honoring French Mathematical Physicist JeanPierre Vigier
 Pub Date:
 December 2010
 DOI:
 10.1063/1.3536427
 Bibcode:
 2010AIPC.1316..125S
 Keywords:

 entropy;
 statistical mechanics;
 integral equations;
 05.70.Ce;
 05.20.Jj;
 02.30.Rz;
 Thermodynamic functions and equations of state;
 Statistical mechanics of classical fluids;
 Integral equations