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Chemical potential

Zhigang Suo's picture


Zhigang Suo's picture

In a recent lecture, I was trying to remember the name of the ancient poet who wrote about atoms.  The poet was Lucretius (~99BC), and the poem was On the Nature of Things.  In 2011, Stephen Greenblatt, the John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, published a brilliant book, Swerve, in which he recounted how the re-discovery of the ancient poem, in 1417, changed the course of our civilization.   

Atoms and molecules are the substance of thermodynamics.  The last week of our class will be devoted to them.  We shall return to the play of thermodynamics, and introduce the last main character of the play:  chemical potential, the child that Lady Entropy had with Atoms.  Chemical potential was discovered by Gibbs (1878).  

Three cheers to Lucretius, Gibbs, and us.  

Here is Greenblatt’s article in the New Yorker (Links to an external site.) about the ancient poem on atoms, its re-discovery, and its impact on modernity.

Zhigang Suo's picture

I have just updated the slides on chemical potential.

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