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  • State the expressions of the second law of thermodynamics.
  • Calculate the efficiency and carbon dioxide emission of a coal-fired electricity plant, using second law characteristics.
  • Describe and define the Otto cycle.
Photograph of melting ice floes in the Arctic.
These ice floes melt during the Arctic summer. Some of them refreeze in the winter, but the second law of thermodynamics predicts that it would be extremely unlikely for the water molecules contained in these particular floes to reform the distinctive alligator-like shape they formed when the picture was taken in the summer of 2009. (credit: Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Geological Survey)

The second law of thermodynamics deals with the direction taken by spontaneous processes. Many processes occur spontaneously in one direction only—that is, they are irreversible, under a given set of conditions. Although irreversibility is seen in day-to-day life—a broken glass does not resume its original state, for instance—complete irreversibility is a statistical statement that cannot be seen during the lifetime of the universe. More precisely, an irreversible process    is one that depends on path. If the process can go in only one direction, then the reverse path differs fundamentally and the process cannot be reversible. For example, as noted in the previous section, heat involves the transfer of energy from higher to lower temperature. A cold object in contact with a hot one never gets colder, transferring heat to the hot object and making it hotter. Furthermore, mechanical energy, such as kinetic energy, can be completely converted to thermal energy by friction, but the reverse is impossible. A hot stationary object never spontaneously cools off and starts moving. Yet another example is the expansion of a puff of gas introduced into one corner of a vacuum chamber. The gas expands to fill the chamber, but it never regroups in the corner. The random motion of the gas molecules could take them all back to the corner, but this is never observed to happen. (See [link] .)

Part a of the figure shows spontaneous heat transfers. A rectangular section is divided down the center, and then marked hot on the left end and cold on the right. Heat Q is shown to flow from the hot end to the cold end as shown by a bold arrow toward the right. Part b of the figure shows a car moving on a horizontal road toward the right with initial velocity v. The car brake is applied after some time. The final velocity v sub f is shown equal to zero. Heat is released by the car. Part c of the figure shows two parts. The first part shows a burst of gas let into a vacuum chamber using a sprayer. The molecules of gas are shown to move in a random manner shown as dashed zigzag arrows. The second part of the same diagram shows the next stage after the air burst is sprayed. The molecules of air are shown to be arranged in uniform distribution as shown by horizontal, parallel dashed curves in the medium.
Examples of one-way processes in nature. (a) Heat transfer occurs spontaneously from hot to cold and not from cold to hot. (b) The brakes of this car convert its kinetic energy to heat transfer to the environment. The reverse process is impossible. (c) The burst of gas let into this vacuum chamber quickly expands to uniformly fill every part of the chamber. The random motions of the gas molecules will never return them to the corner.

The fact that certain processes never occur suggests that there is a law forbidding them to occur. The first law of thermodynamics would allow them to occur—none of those processes violate conservation of energy. The law that forbids these processes is called the second law of thermodynamics. We shall see that the second law can be stated in many ways that may seem different, but which in fact are equivalent. Like all natural laws, the second law of thermodynamics gives insights into nature, and its several statements imply that it is broadly applicable, fundamentally affecting many apparently disparate processes.

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what's acceleration
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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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