Tag Archives: Entropy

today’s birthday: James Prescott Joule (1818)


James Prescott Joule (1818)

One of the great experimental scientists of the 19th century, Joule is the man for whom the standard mechanical unit of work is named. He was an English physicist who made valuable contributions to the study of heat, electricity, and thermodynamics. His work established the mechanical theory of heat, determined the relationship between heat energy and mechanical energy, and established the first law of thermodynamics. He also applied his intellect to helping operate what family business? More… Discuss

Maxwell’s Demon


Maxwell’s Demon

The second law of thermodynamics—stating that any isolated microcosm moves only toward an increase in entropy—was accepted uneasily by the scientific community, and in 1867, physicist James Clerk Maxwell sought to disprove it. Maxwell’s thought experiment utilized a hypothetical creature, which he called a “finite being,” that could sort molecules of different velocities or temperatures without expending energy, thus bringing about a general decrease in entropy. Who dubbed the being a “demon”? More… Discuss