The Discovery of Entropy and The Laws of Thermodynamics Which Explain Energy and the Universe
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius
“Gottfried Leibniz (pronounced “got-freed libe-nitz”) theorized alongside several of his contemporaries, that the universe has been meticulously designed, as a vast machine, by an incredibly wise and hyperopic being. It was believed that if humans could understand how machines worked, they could then work out how the universe and the principals which govern it and which have created it, work as well. This idea was a marriage between philosophy and theology on one side and engineering and mechanics upon the other.
In 1676, Leibniz asked the question of what happens when objects collide. Leibniz referred to the transfer of energy and motion (e.g. one pool table ball hitting another, causing the first to stop and the second to roll forward) as the “living force” and believed that there was a physical, tangible entity which is transferred when objects collide. Leibniz argued that the universe is a living machine and that inside the machine, there is a quantity of living force, placed by God, which will stay constant forever, meaning the amount of living force will always be conserved, which is consistent with the First Law of Thermodynamics, the Conservation of Energy and Mass. Leibniz soon found a simple, mathematical method to describe this force (e.g. gunpowder is ignited within the barrel of a firearm, causing a violent and powerful explosion to occur which release fire and steam etc.)
Leibniz struck up a friendship with the French scientist Denis Papin (pronounced “den-ee pap- in”) via letter correspondence as Leibniz was an apt writer who often took to his quill and ink. Leibniz and Papin soon discovered that the living force released in certain situations, could indeed be harnessed (e.g. heat being transferred into a useful action). In a letter written to Denis, Leibniz wrote “I can assure you that the more I go forward, the more I find reason to think highly of this invention which, in theory, may augment the powers of man to infinity. But in practice, I believe I can say without exaggeration, that one man by this means will be able to do as much as 100 others can do without it”.
150 years after this realization, steam engines became the cutting edge of 19th century technology. Steam power technology was regarded with an almost religious reverence as it had”