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Four Laws That Drive the Universe Hardcover – 6 Sep 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (6 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199232369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199232369
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 1.8 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Review

His engaging account...the lucid figures offer readers a firm understanding of energy and entropy. (Science)

Concise, well-written, engaging and carefully structured... an enjoyable and informative read. (Chemistry World)

Peter Atkins's account of the core concepts of thermodynamics is beautifully crafted. (Simon Mitton, THES)

A brief and invigoratingly limpid guide to the laws of thermodynamics. (Saturday Guardian)

Atkins's systematic foundations should go a long way towards easing confusion about the subject...an engaging book, just the right length (and depth) for an absorbing, informative read. (Mark Haw, Nature)

[Atkins'] ultra-compact guide to thermodynamics [is] a wonderful book that I wish I had read at university. (New Scientist)

About the Author

Peter Atkins is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Lincoln College. He is the author of nearly 60 books, which includeGalileo's finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Scienceand the world-renowned textbook Physical Chemistry(now in its eighth edition). His other books includeThe Periodic Kingdom,Molecules, and the textbooksInorganic Chemistry,Chemical Principles, andMolecular Quantum Mechanics. He has been a visiting professor in France, Israel, New Zealand, and China, and continues to lecture widely throughout the world.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Christian Jongeneel on 2 Nov. 2008
Format: Hardcover
This slim volume offers an introduction into the laws of thermodynamics. No funny stuff, just plain and basic explaining. If you simply want to know the principles of this branch of physics, this book will lift your grasp of the matter from highschool to college level in an admirable way.

Only when at the end of the book, in the process of explaining the third law, he introduces the spin of an electron, does Peter Atkins stray away from the until then crystal clear reasoning. Cleaning up the non-intuitive steps in this chapter would have made the book truly perfect.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By ab..c VINE VOICE on 28 Feb. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Introduction

This remarkably slim volume primer for basic principles of `Thermodynamics' shows great clarity and economy in its descriptions. If you saw this on a shelf you might consider its of a low academic quality, but i.m.h.o this is a mistake. However please note, this does not contain explicit mathematical descriptions, such as Partial derivatives equations using Vector Calculus e.g. DIV, GRAD, Curl or anything approaching this, so please bear this in mind.

What does it cover?

The Prof. begins by defining energy principles that allow for the quickest, clearest comprehension. The mathematical supporting these statements is largely removed to give an orientating guide to understanding of the reader in the main features of this topic. Topics described with superb clarity are the 'Zeroth Law', and the concept of temperature and work, the conservation of energy, descriptive features about the second law with regard to entropy and work in `Carnot heat engines', and finishing with the unattainably nature of zero k and how this follows into basic quantum theory.

Summary

For what's its worth I have seen a Dr. Engineering (I will not name) use this book as the basis for his lectures. He regarded this volume possessing "deep understanding for a new students perspective" and "is the model of clarity often used by senior tutors to compare their own teaching styles".
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Too many books on 4 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book was great up to page 35: a very clear and lucid account of heat and energy. Then it suddenly became very difficult and dropped into a heavy and turgid morass.

I was a complete beginner at this, and although the book has no maths in it, it is not at all easy to understand if you don't have a secondary school education in the basic physics. I suspect, from what other reviewers have said, that it contains many profound insights for people who were taught the equations, but were never taught why they should be using them. It isn't really suitable for general readers, or at least not this general reader, looking for an introduction to the laws of thermodynamics and concepts like enthalpy, entropy and Gibbs energy, and an explanation as to why physical and chemical reactions occur.

Atkins doesn't put any mathematical equations into the book. Normally, this what you do if you are writing for general readers. However, I found Atkins impenetrable, and had to turn to the mathematical descriptions (like van Ness) before I understood what he was trying to say. I feel bad saying such a negative thing about a book that was clearly an intense effort to write, and it is just a shame that he couldn't maintain the lucidity of the first 35 pages for the remaining 100-odd.

In all, I was a bit disappointed, but if you are approaching the book from the right background, it might well be very worthwhile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ron murp on 16 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Can't praise this enough. Peter Atkins is a great writer and easy to read. So you should read this, and re-read it t get a good feel for the significance of the four laws (of thermodynamics) and their place in understanding this universe. Get this and his Galileo's Finger.

And if you watch him on youtube he's pretty direct and doesn't take any nonsense. His chemistry books are good too.
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By D. Bird on 1 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives a very concise explanation of the laws of thermodynamics. It is well written and interesting. However, what it lacks is some more explaining. There are always lots of questions that can be asked about thermodynamics, but this book only gives a short introduction to the topic. To fully understand thermodynamics there needs to be more explanation and perhaps some more equations. I found myself being more unsure about my understanding of thermodynamics after reading this than I was before.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A useful unprejudiced starting point, particularly the chapter on temperature, but if you are looking for a comprehensive explanation, this isn't it
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