An Account of Thermodynamic Entropy

An Account of Thermodynamic Entropy

The second law of thermodynamics is an example of the fundamental laws that govern our universe and is relevant to every branch of science exploring the physical world. This reference summarizes ...
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More a Matter of Lost Work Than of Waste Heat

Pp. 31-40 (10)

Alberto Gianinetti


It is further highlighted that the concept of work represents a more general way to see what entropy is. That is, the idea of work offers a better framework to understand entropy. A fundamental observation in classical mechanics is that a system is at equilibrium when no work can be done by it. The capability of a system to do work is inversely linked to its stability, which then can be considered to be equivalent to the inertness of the system. Thus, equilibration, stability and inertness are all aspects of the same feature of a system, and such feature is measured in terms of entropy. An equilibrated, stable, and inert system has the highest value of entropy it can reach, and any departure from these conditions results in a decrease of entropy. Therefore, work availability and entropy are inversely linked: the maximal entropy is attained when no work can be done.


Classical mechanics, Constraints, Directional macroscopic displacement, Discontinuity, Disequilibrium, Energy availability, Energy dissipation, Free energy, Irreversible process, Levelling of gradients, Lost work, Macroscopic gradient, Overall entropy, Potential energy, Random microscopic motions, Reversible path, Spreading and sharing, Transfer of work, Wasted heat.


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