Note1 - Note 1. Introduction 1.1 What is thermodynamics?...

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1 Note 1. Introduction 1.1 What is thermodynamics? Thermodynamics is a theory which gives us a set of relations between macroscopic properties we can measure (temperature, volume, pressure, length). What’s really remarkable about it is that it requires no assumptions about the nature of the underlying molecules (or even that molecules exist!). Thus, it is really very powerful, especially in cases where one does not know the molecular nature of the system of interest or if this nature is very complicated. Traditional examples: Modern examples: air conditioners, refrigerators drug design gases, liquids protein folding pressure cookers viral infection Many of these questions revolve around understanding the nature of a reaction, i.e. A + B C which could be drug bound drug free in solution or protein unfolded protein folded etc. What is the final result of the reaction (do we get products or reactants – and in what concentrations)? How can we drive the reaction in the direction we want? How do these reactions depend on external conditions, such as temperature, pressure, pH, ionic concentrations, etc? How can we quantitatively understand these systems and potentially improve upon them? These are some of the questions that thermodynamics answers. However, thermodynamics does not say anything about time. Thermodynamics will tell us what the eventual result will be, but cannot say how long the reaction will take. However, for the question above, we care more about the final state than how we get there. In this case, thermodynamics can yield some very powerful tools to answer these questions.
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2 1.2 An analogy to mechanical systems We make an analogy to mechanical systems because we have some physical intuition for these systems, and there are many concepts which carry over. Moreover, in the cases where our intuition does not carry over, that may be even more interesting and important. 1.2.1 Types of energy For example, consider someone sledding on a hill. What he cares about is that there are some forces which bring him down (and that there is a certain amount of work he has to do to climb up the hill to go again). Thus, there are three important quantities/aspects: 1. Force : In this case gravity 2. Distance : In this case how high he has to climb up in order to go sledding again 3. Work : How much work he has to do to climb up again
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This note was uploaded on 09/30/2008 for the course CH 353M taught by Professor Lim during the Spring '08 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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Note1 - Note 1. Introduction 1.1 What is thermodynamics?...

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