Should there be new laws of thermodynamics?

First, let’s quickly review the basics of the existing four or so laws, OR, you could skip to below the wiggly line:

Zeroth Law: According to Arnold Sommerfeld, Ralph H. Fowler invented the title ‘the zeroth law of thermodynamics’ when he was discussing the 1935 text of Saha and Srivastava. They write on page 1 that “every physical quantity must be measurable in numerical terms”. They presume that temperature is a physical quantity and then deduce the statement “If a body A is in temperature equilibrium with two bodies B and C, then B and C themselves will be in temperature equilibrium with each other”… [Source Wikipedia]

Law 1: The first law of thermodynamics is a version of the law of conservation of energy, adapted for thermodynamic systems. The law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed… [Source Wikipedia]

Law 2: …The German scientist Rudolf Clausius laid the foundation for the second law of thermodynamics in 1850 by examining the relation between heat transfer and work.[17] His formulation of the second law, which was published in German in 1854, is known as the Clausius statement:  Heat can never pass from a colder to a warmer body without some other change, connected therewith, occurring at the same time. [Or] Heat cannot spontaneously flow from cold regions to hot regions without external work being performed on the system… [Source Wikipedia]

This is the form of law 2 that has been well defined by Flanders and Swann (1963), but ordinary folks should be alerted that despite the truth of the above, there have been “definition refinements” that maybe could be renumbered to Law 2.1:

Law 2 Updated: The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems always evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium, a state with maximum entropy… [And much more: source Wikipedia]

Law 3: The third law of thermodynamics is sometimes stated as follows, regarding the properties of systems in equilibrium at absolute zero temperature:  The entropy of a perfect crystal, at absolute zero kelvin, is exactly equal to zero…  [And much more: source Wikipedia]


With publication of the book; SLAYING THE SKY DRAGON in 2010, some of these laws of thermodynamics were “revisited”, which in part resulted in the subtitle of; ‘Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory’. I’ve only found time to read Tim Ball’s philosophical contribution about the IPCC and whatnot, but understand from various commentaries that the other eight  authors have some more controversial theories.

Adding to this over the past three years or so, there have been various blog advocates that also dismiss the GHE; two standout campaigners being Doug Cotton & AlecM, both with apparently an enthusiastic following.  Perhaps the most controversial idea is that physicists don’t understand the behaviour of electromagnetic radiation (EMR/light)

On the other hand, the ‘Wave/Particle Duality Theory of light’ is clearly entrenched in I would guess well over 97% of physicists.  However, the innovations include, briefly:

  1. Where down-welling EMR (infrared light) is exactly opposite in alignment to upwelling waves that are equal in frequency and amplitude throughout the whole spectra, they form standing waves in which no energy is transferred.  Consequently, there are thus no photons but only waves involved.
  2. Photons cannot leave home if they “know” they will at sometime encounter warmer matter or a “cancelling” standing wave.
  3. It is impossible for down-welling EMR to be absorbed by a warmer surface because it would contravene Law 2.
  4. Back-radiation does not exist. (and pyrgeometers tell fibs)

From all this it would seem that the laws of thermodynamics should be changed to establish the new revelations in quantum theory and whatnot.  First though, I just wonder about a few things:

  1. No empirical evidence of EMR standing waves in the atmosphere has been demonstrated and the atmosphere is both unstable and of reducing T with altitude.  Thus the amplitude of the EMR spectra diminishes with altitude and it seems doubtful that standing waves can exist apart from in the imagination.
  2. It is well established that EMR is spherically isotropic in the atmosphere (radiating equally in infinite directions) and established thermodynamic laws do not allow it to “know” where it is going.  (or e.g. how to avoid going somewhere hotter)
  3. Examination of the EMR spectra in the image below shows that typically in the atmosphere there is overlap of IR energy levels.  Thus, there are emissions from some parts of the cooler matter which are at higher energy level than in some parts in the hotter spectrum.  It is therefore necessary to explain why there would be lower energy molecules in the hotter spectrum unreceptive to higher inputs from the colder spectrum.  Planckies-283-263
  4. The mathematics of net heat transfer via EMR is unaffected by consideration of whether or not EMR is absorbed by hotter matter and then reemitted back towards the colder matter.

So, the question is; should the laws of thermodynamics be changed?


About Bob Fernley-Jones

I'm a retired mechanical engineer, and I guess that because in my science, any bad assumptions can get people killed, I have an abhorrence of many things that are perpetrated by academics in some areas of science. In the case of so-called climate science, the culture and bias in some media is also repugnant to me. I'm hoping that the ABC will improve its self regulating policies and culture to eliminate bias, and this website is under development towards that end. (if necessary).

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