The four laws of thermodynamics

The laws of thermodynamics define a group of physical quantities, such as temperature, energy, and entropy, that characterize thermodynamic systems in thermodynamic equilibrium. The laws also use various parameters for thermodynamic processes, such as thermodynamic work and heat, and establish relationships between them. They state empirical facts that form a basis of precluding the possibility of certain phenomena, such as perpetual motion. In addition to their use in thermodynamics, they are important fundamental laws of physics in general, and are applicable in other natural sciences.

The four laws of thermodynamics
laws of thermodynamics

The four laws of thermodynamics

The fundamental principles of thermodynamics were originally expressed in three laws. Later, it was determined that a more fundamental law had been neglected, apparently because it had seemed so obvious that it did not need to be stated explicitly. To form a complete set of rules, scientists decided this most fundamental law needed to be included. The problem, though, was that the first three laws had already been established and were well known by their assigned numbers. When faced with the prospect of renumbering the existing laws, which would cause considerable confusion, or placing the pre-eminent law at the end of the list, which would make no logical sense, a British physicist, Ralph H. Fowler, came up with an alternative that solved the dilemma: he called the new law the “Zeroth Law.” In brief, these laws are: 

The Zeroth Law

 It states that if two bodies are in thermal equilibrium with some third body, then they are also in equilibrium with each other. This establishes temperature as a fundamental and measurable property of matter. 

The First Law 

It states that the total increase in the energy of a system is equal to the increase in thermal energy plus the work done on the system. This states that heat is a form of energy and is therefore subject to the principle of conservation.

The Second Law

 It states that heat energy cannot be transferred from a body at a lower temperature to a body at a higher temperature without the addition of energy. This is why it costs money to run an air conditioner.

The Third Law

It states that the entropy of a pure crystal at absolute zero is zero. As explained above, entropy is sometimes called "waste energy," i.e., the energy that is unable to do work, and since there is no heat energy whatsoever at absolute zero, there can be no waste energy. Entropy is also a measure of the disorder in a system, and while a perfect crystal is by definition perfectly ordered, any positive value of temperature means there is motion within the crystal, which causes the disorder. For these reasons, there can be no physical system with lower entropy, so entropy always has a positive value.

The science of thermodynamics has been developed over centuries, and its principles apply to nearly every device ever invented. Its importance in modern technology cannot be overstated.