What are your personal “pain points” with thermodynamics?

What are your personal “pain points” with thermodynamics? What are the stumbling blocks you encounter when trying to understand the physical meaning behind such thermodynamic equations and phenomena as Gibbs Free Energy, Joule-Thomson expansion, phase change, and even the physical properties of matter, including heat capacity and absolute temperature? Could you please share these with me in the comments section below or via direct email (rthanlon@mit.edu), and I’ll add them to my own list of stumbling blocks and unanswered questions. My objective in doing this is as follows.

I believe that a better understanding of thermodynamics is available by explaining the connections between the micro-world of moving and colliding atoms and the macro-world of classical thermodynamics. My goal is to identify and clarify the micro-to-macro connections for the final list of “paint points” generated here, this list serving to ensure I’m addressing true needs of the science community. I remain undecided on how best to share these results back to you all. It may be a 2nd book, creation of a special YouTube channel, or some other form. Again, not sure. Regardless, a long journey awaits, and I’m looking forward to it.

If you have ideas on where best to locate well documented micro-to-macro connections, please let me know. My starting point is Richard Feynman’s excellent “Lectures on Physics” but even there, while some of my own pain points are indeed addressed, many aren’t.

Professors & teachers – please consider sharing this with your colleagues and also with your current or past students. I’d be very interested to hear their take on things.

Wishing each of you well for 2022.

Thank you,

Published by Robert T Hanlon

I earned my Sc.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and subsequently conducted post-doctoral research at Karlsruhe University in Germany. My professional career took me to Mobil Oil Research & Development Corporation, the Rohm and Haas Company, and then back to MIT where I am currently involved with their School of Chemical Engineering Practice.

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