Keynote Lecture

Keynote Lecture

Fundamental Laws of Nature:
Mass-Energy, Work, Heat and Entropy
From Reversible Isentropic to Irreversible Caloric Processes

Professor M. Kostic
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115-2854, USA


Abstract: The phenomenological Laws of Thermodynamics have much wider, including philosophical significance and implication, than their simple expressions based on the experimental observations – they are the Fundamental Laws of Nature. The Fundamental Thermodynamic Laws of Nature (The First, Second, Zeroth and Fourth) are defining and unifying our comprehension of all existence in universe (all natural systems defined by their properties and processes) and all changes in time (all natural processes, including life), which are in turn caused by mass-energy transfer, from one system or subsystem to another, due to non-uniform mass-energy distribution in local space and/or universe. Due to universality and diversity of Thermodynamics (The Laws of natural, including man-made processes and properties), it appears to be abstract and difficult to comprehend, regardless that the “cause-and-effect” Laws of Nature are obvious, logical and simple. The fundamental Laws of Nature are exceptionally simple but they appear in exceptionally many different forms, which explain universality and unity of simplicity and complexity, but also difficulties to recognize simplicity in complex diversity.
The basic concepts will be systematically defined and illustrated first by simple ideal-gas systems and reversible processes, and then expended to real systems and unavoidable process irreversibility. The hart of Thermodynamics is energy, which is ‘contained’ within, i.e. defines a mass-energy system which occupies a space, and thus is the ‘building block’ and fundamental property of matter and space, and in turn, the fundamental property of existence. Furthermore, the mass and energy are manifestation of each other and are equivalent; they have a holistic meaning of mass-energy. Moreover, energy exchanges from one to another system or subsystems are related to energy transfer in time across a real- or imaginary-interface boundary-surfaces between and within the systems, i.e. energy transfer is associated with all processes (or changes) and, thus, indivisible from time. The forces, causing the mass-energy displacement/transfer, thus defining the process direction are manifested by tendency or actual mass-energy transfer due to non-equilibrium of mass-energy in space. The non-equilibrium, i.e., non-uniform distribution of mass-energy in space tends, in time, to spontaneously and irreversibly redistribute over space towards common equilibrium, thus non-equilibrium cannot be spontaneously created. All natural spontaneous, or over-all processes (proceeding by itself and without interaction with the rest of the surroundings) between systems in non-equilibrium have tendency towards common equilibrium and thus irreversible loss of the original work potential (measure of non-equilibrium), by converting (dissipating) other energy forms into the thermal energy accompanied with increase of entropy (randomized equi-partition of energy per absolute temperature level). These fundamental concepts will be revisited and highlighted using typical and characteristic natural processes with an objective to explain, clarify, and resolve any misunderstanding by correlating and unifying different approaches and nomenclature, related to the universal concept of mass-energy in space and time.
The philosophic axiom "causa aequat effectum," traced to ancient philosophers, represents the most universal and fundamental law of nature, including existence and future, i.e. past and future transformations. By the beginning of the 20th century scientists had established conservation laws governing the following quantities: energy, mass (or matter), linear momentum, angular momentum, and electric charge. Conservation laws have the broadest possible application of all laws in physics and are thus considered by many scientists to be the most fundamental laws in nature. As such the fundamental laws are taken as axiomatic and many believe they could not be questioned, explained or proven. However, everything may and should be questioned, reasoned, explained and possibly proven. The miracles are until they are comprehended and understood.

Brief Biography of the Speaker:
Milivoje M. Kostic, Ph.D., P.Eng., Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Northern Illinois University, is a notable researcher and scholar in energy fundamentals and applications, including nanotechnology, with emphasis on conservation, environment and sustainability. He graduated with the University of Belgrade highest distinction (the highest GPA in ME program history), obtained Ph.D. at University of Illinois at Chicago as a Fulbright scholar, appointed as NASA faculty fellow, and Fermi and Argonne National Laboratories faculty researcher. Professor Kostic also worked in industry and has authored a number of patents and professional publications, including invited articles in prestigious energy encyclopedias. He has a number of professional awards and recognitions, is a frequent plenary speaker at international conferences and at different educational and public institutions, as well as member of several professional societies and scientific advisory boards.
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