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If you want to know what's happening in the world, follow the heat.
Why can't your coffee "steal" heat from the air to stay piping hot? Why can't Detroit make a car that's 100 percent efficient? Why can't some genius make a perpetual motion machine? The answers lie in the field of thermodynamics, the study of heat, which turns out to be the key to an astonishing number of scientific puzzles, including why time inexorably runs in only one direction.
In Warmth Disperses and Time Passes: The History of Heat, physics professor Hans Christian von Baeyer tells the story of heat through the lives of the scientists who discovered it. With his trademark elegant prose, eye for lively detail, and gift for lucid explanation, Professor von Baeyer turns the contemplation of a cooling coffee cup into a beguiling portrait of the birth of a science with relevance to almost every aspect of our lives.
Praise for Warmth Disperses and Time Passes
"Hans von Baeyer's writing style is so compelling that it would induce even the most scientifically naïve reader to care about the laws of thermodynamics.
--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Professor von Baeyer is a prime candidate for best wordsmith among popularizers of physics, composing prose that is elegant, economical and, above all, civilized.
"Hans von Baeyer uses common sense and familiar observations as a tool for exploring deep scientific principles.
--Library Journal, Best Sci-Tech Books of 1998
"Hans Christian von Baeyer has published a highly readable, highly humanized account of the second law of thermodynamics. He gives what could be an abstract and difficult discussion a profoundly human tone.
--The Boston Globe