Definitions for second law of thermodynamics

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Princeton's WordNet

  1. second law of thermodynamics(noun)

    a law stating that mechanical work can be derived from a body only when that body interacts with another at a lower temperature; any spontaneous process results in an increase of entropy

Freebase

  1. Second law of thermodynamics

    The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the second kind are impossible. The second law is an empirically validated postulate of thermodynamics, but it can be understood and explained using the underlying quantum statistical mechanics, together with the assumption of low-entropy initial conditions in the distant past. In the language of statistical mechanics, entropy is a measure of the number of microscopic configurations corresponding to a macroscopic state. Because equilibrium corresponds to a vastly greater number of microscopic configurations than any non-equilibrium state, it has the maximum entropy, and the second law follows because random chance alone practically guarantees that the system will evolve towards equilibrium. It is an expression of the fact that over time, differences in temperature, pressure, and chemical potential decrease in an isolated non-gravitational physical system, leading eventually to a state of thermodynamic equilibrium.

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