Science in History Seminar Series; 22 Oct 2012
Publication date: Aug 31, 2012 3:28:17 PM
Oct 22, 2012 4:15:00 PM
End: Oct 22, 2012 6:00:00 PM
Science in History is a new occasional seminar series jointly sponsored by UCL Science & Technology Studies and Physics & Astronomy.
The series will present ideas from the history of science primarily from the point of view of scientists.
The Nature of Energy
Professor Peter Atkins (University of Oxford)
Mon 22 Oct 2012, 4:15 pm
Rioom 105, Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0AG24
What is energy? Although we use it in every aspect of our lives, pay enormous sums for it, and fear for its future availability, few can say exactly what it is. That the concept is important is reflected by the fact that once the concept had been identified in the early nineteenth century, it swept to prominence. After presenting an explanation of it, I shall consider the laws that govern it. These are the laws of thermodynamics.
Each law raises a variety of questions. For instance, what is temperature?
Why does the total energy of the universe remain the same? Where do the laws of Nature come from? How much energy is there in the universe? But as well as dealing with the quantity of energy, we have to consider its quality. That means we have to understand the concept of entropy too, a concept that greatly puzzled the Victorians. I shall present a qualitative account of this hugely important concept. Through it, we shall see what drives every action in the universe.