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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 21 October 2010
Peter Atkins promises at the outset that this will not be a light read, and it isn't, at least not if you want to really take it all in and much of it is new to you. Gibbs energy and Helmholtz energy are discussed, as are negative (below absolute zero) temperatures. For a very short introduction to the subject, it goes into considerable depth.

You would need no more than an average grasp of High School maths and science to follow the arguments completely, and not even that if you are just seeking a flavour of what the subject is about and are willing to settle for less than a thorough understanding.

Atkins writes very well, with clarity, elegance and an infectious enthusiasm. There is certainly no lack of the latter - he describes these laws as 'a mighty handful' that drive the Universe, and claims that 'no other scientific law has contributed more to the liberation of the human spirit than the second law of Thermodynamics'. I'm not sure about that, but I do now appreciate the fundamental importance of these laws and how they are crucial to understanding how Nature works.
[PeterReeve]
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2010
One of the difficulties in teaching A level is that the text books tend to be curriculum specific. This means the basic concepts are often stirred in with various calculations and practical investigations.
If you are to teach any subject you need to nail the basic concepts and theory first and that's what these very short introductions (VSIs) do very well. I am currently working through thermodynamics as I will be teaching this again soon and it is not a favourite subject however the VSI has helped clarify key points and has given some useful analogies that will be used in the classroom.
These should be in the school library and listed as recommended reading for all A level physics students and teachers old and new.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2010
I'm sure this is an excellent read.
However, it's pretty much a direct reprint of the same author's work Four Laws That Drive the Universe. If you've already read that book, then don't bother to buy this, the same book under a different title.
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on 8 November 2012
Really good book, very clear and concise. I first did thermodynamics in the 70s but this is the first time I feel that I fully understand it. I'm much indebted to Peter Atkins for a first rate job - would have been a five star review, but docked a star for the slightly awkward formatting on the Kindle - if you're after the print edition, call this a five star review!
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on 21 November 2012
This is a well-written book by somebody who has spent a great deal of time considering how to present the topic in a 'user-friendly' way but has not sacrificed rigour.However, this does mean that it is not an easy read and requires to be read more than once.If this is done then an insight is obtained about an important section of science.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2012
When I first bought this book I was I little worried I wouldn't be able to understand it because I'm only 16 but if you interested in thermodynamics and don't mind go other the chapter you just read again to fully understand it then I would highly recommend this book it's fantastic
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VINE VOICEon 22 September 2013
This was a surprisingly deep read, considering it is supposed to be a 'very short introduction' so I was pleasantly surprised. I would have liked to see a more critical analysis of entropy and I'm still looking for someone to write in detail about why 'energy' is not the capacity to do work.
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on 7 November 2013
Still reading the book. Thermodynamics is a subject that most people just like to skip over as they think too much about the complexity of the subject. This book gives you a simple yet detailed summary of all you need to know in thermodynamics.
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on 22 February 2014
Good book, well explained considering difficult subject matter. It did make my brain hurt in parts but hey - that's thermodynamics! Would recommend this book if you only have basic knowledge of subject.
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on 3 March 2015
A nice compact edition that wraps the subject in a logical "the laws" following way. It also brings the subject up to date if like me your thermodynamics study was over 40 years ago.
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