Second law of thermodynamics (overview)

The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system increases during a spontaneous process. Another commonly used definition is the Kelvin-Planck statement, which we shall introduce in the next article.

The first law of thermodynamics states that the total energy of a system and its surroundings is constant. The state functions and , though very insightful and useful, are not able to tell whether a process can proceed spontaneously. To determine the spontaneity of a process, scientists went searching for another state function. Rudolf Clausius, a German scientist, analysed the Carnot cycle, which was developed earlier by Sadi Carnot, a French engineer, and eventually conceptualized a new thermodynamic state function , called entropy, that predicts the spontaneity of certain processes.


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