Thursday, March 18, 2021

Einstein's Fridge - A Review


Einstein's Fridge



Paul Sen

A Review

Paul Sen has created a fascinating book discussing the history of physics from the mid-19th century to the present as he takes the reader on a journey through the development of the field of thermodynamics.

During our journey we meet men and women who shaped this new field of study. Some of those we meet are well-known (e.g. James Watt), some are well-known for their contributions in other fields (e.g. Alan Turing), and some are more obscure (e.g. Emmy Noether). Regardless of their reputation, each contributed significantly to the body of knowledge we now know as thermodynamics.

Focusing on the people, the book is not a mathematical monograph, but uses a series of thought experiments to help his readers understand the growth of this subfield of physics. It was interesting how new ideas grew upon each other and, occasionally, folded back on an earlier researcher to again further the world’s understanding of the relationship between heat and cold. The book will be appreciated by anyone with a basic high school or college freshman physics course under their belt.

Two notes found in the Epilogue of the book help the reader understand the author's intention of writing this work:

At its heart, this book is a celebration that between 1850 and today the science of heat has played a vital role in promoting the greatest improvement in the human condition in our species’ entire history. 


The main obstacle to dealing with climate change isn’t scientific. Instead, it’s political and emotional. While some refuse to accept that the problem exists, others refuse to accept the solutions. That brings me back to why I wanted to write this book. Now, more than ever, it’s important that all of us have a basic grasp of the science of heat, so that we can make sensible and informed decisions about how best to ensure progress while preserving or improving living conditions fo fellow humans without ruining the environment. Should we commit to nuclear energy? Should we drive electric cars? How much tax should we pay on petrol, and how much should we subsidize wind farms? We will be in no position to answer these vitally important questions unless we have a basic understanding of the laws of thermodynamics.

Weaving together Carnot’s basic understanding of heat, Turing's application of information theory and embryology, and Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, as well as the work of many others, I give the book five stars.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions are mine alone.

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