ClimateGate: Setting up the experiment to measure “heat”, thinking about thermodynamics

There are a few laws in the universe and thermodynamics has a lock on some of the more depressing statements.  As I think of them:

First Law of Thermodynamics: You can win

Second Law of Thermodynamics: The first law is wrong, and not only can’t you win, everything in the universe will die because of the lack of energy.


That sucks.

So what is the first law:

The first law is a statement of the conservation of energy for thermodynamic systems.  This includes a cardboard box, and it includes the earth and the atmosphere and oceans, just a difference in scale.  A precise meaning requires a definition of what the “energy of the system” and the “energy that the system receives from its environment during a transformation.”

In your car, muscles, atmosphere the energy is equal to the sum of the kinetic energies and the potential energies.  This means to precisely sum the total energy in our cardboard box we have to consider the dynamics of the system of our heat source and surrounding environment.


That is it for now.  I am working along in Fermi’s Thermodynamics, I thought that I would use some notes I had found from Bohr, but I really was talking about Fermi.