Saturday, April 26, 2008

Laws of Thermodynamics and Laws of Giving

I have a strong belief in finding solutions to problems through the acquisition and application of knowledge. Not only understanding practical or pragmatic forms of information, but also understanding the deeper principals behind them. At the very least, one should develop some sense of appreciation for them.

Recently I have been going over some of the MIT World videos on a program they had on Meeting the Entropy Challenge.

To be truthful, much of it went over my head, but much of it was both very interesting and informative. I have referenced the ones I personally found interesting elsewhere in this blog, others can be found through the diigo tag links below. One in particular focused on the physics of energy used in engineering and industry, the Second Law and Energy, Stephen Chu, Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Tracing the Second Law by Howard W. Butler provides a good start on understanding the entropy issue.

"Tracing the Second Law", by Howard W. Butler - Feature Article, July 2007 Annotated diigo tags: science, 2ndLaw, entropy

While man learned to control and use fire many thousands of years ago, only in the last 300 years has the nature of heat been given serious consideration. In this short time, it has been explained as phlogiston, a mysterious fluid created by fire, and as caloric, a material fluid flowing from hot to cold. The modern view, that heat is a convertible form of energy, is fewer than 200 years old.

The above citations aid providing the principles, but little good is done if they remain in academic towers. Fortunately, there are some stellar examples of how they can be applied.

MIT MechE - News + Events - MechE Features Annotated diigo tags: MIT, engineering, meche
Amy B. Smith is an inventor who creates useful technologies for others. Yet before she could do that, she had to invent something else: a way to channel her skills into a path that was meaningful to her. "When I was working towards my bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering here in the 1980s, the chief focus in the field seemed to be cars and bombs," she says. "I don't drive and I don't like war, so I had to find my own way."

Amy Smith was the inspiration for my Genius and Passion at Work post


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