The concept of a "system", in thermodynamics, developed over the course of about four centuries, as summarized below.
Da Vinci engine | 1508
In 1508, Leonardo da Vinci built a vacuum based engine model, aka da Vinci gunpowder engine, as shown below, wherein the explosion of gunpowder inside of an inverted cannon barrel, works to lift a weight attached to the piston head:
Galileo engine | 1632
In 1632, Galileo introduced his theoretical vacuum measuring device, shown below, consisting of an inverted piston and cylinder, attached to a bucket, the aim of which as to add weights to the bucket to see just how much it would take to "break" the vacuum.
Guericke engines | 1647 to 1665
In 1647 to 1663, Otto Guericke, building on Galileo, did the most work to developed the basics of the "system" of thermodynamics. Specifically, in 1665, when he did his so-called "take your breath away" experiment, shown below, is when the basic "system" of thermodynamics became a standard model, so to say, as per modern thermodynamics defines things:
In this demonstration, he experimentally proved, to the doubting Prince of Auerberg, that if one breathed into a Guericke "vacuum bulb", shown being held by the boy at right, the person would "breath out his life at the same time" (which the Prince laughed at). He did this by attaching vacuum bulb, with a vacuumed-out "pressure" , its air previous pumped out by one of Guericke's vacuum pumps, to a piston and cylinder, as shown above, with a defined system "volume", of , which had the power to jerk forward (or upward) some 20 to 30 men into the air, by causing the piston head to retract downward, owing to the weight of the surrounding atmospheric "pressure" , pushing inward on the newly released vacuum of space.
The "heat" of this engine, so to say, was transferred from the two men who first worked the vacuum pump, wherein energy of foodstuff was transferred into muscular work, which was then "stored" in the vacuum bulb, so to say. The boy then carried this vacuum bulb, with its stored muscular "work", and attached it to an opening, at position x, of the piston and cylinder. He then turned the valve, of the vacuum bulb, resulting in one down stroke of the engine, the by jerking the men upward, to the astonishment of the Prince.
Papin engine | 1690
In 1690, Denis Papin published his diagrams for his "Papin engine", comprised of a piston and cylinder, as shown below:
Here, the region or volume delineated by the cylinder and piston head, is filled with "water", which is defined as the "working body" (Clausius, 1865), operating such that cyclical contact with a "hot body" (fire) and a "cold body" (water), cause the working body to expand and contract, thus moving the the rod attached to the piston up and down, aka reciprocal motion, which can thus be attached to a flywheel to make rotary motion. At this point, in terms of the development of "system" models, historically, the basics of what would latter become the heat-powered thermodynamic "system", later embodied in the "Carnot engine" and "Carnot Cycle" (and Clausius cycle) were in place.
Savery | Newcomen | Watt engines
It would be another century, via the developments of Thomas Savery, Thomas Newcomen, and James Watt, to make Papin's theoretical engine operation and working, as shown below:
The numerous additions of Watt, resulting in the "Watt engine", were done in the latter half of the 18th century.
Van't Hoff box | 1886
In 1886, Jacobus van't Hoff built a chemical reaction box, by attaching four semipermeable membrane piston and cylinders to a system, that had gas phase reactions occurring inside, and with this device conducted experiments to measure the "work" of various types of chemical reactions:
Social | Systems
When we transfer or extrapolate the basic Guericke-Papin "system" model up the social sphere, things become more complex, to say the least. The following shows the basic components of the thermodynamic "system" model of a simple six-person (or six molecule) social system:
The first and foremost concern here, is that we currently lack an "instrument", i.e. a social barometer, to measure the internal pressure , of a given social system, as compared to the pressure of the surrounding society, similar to the pressure measuring devices built by Torricelli and Watt. Nevertheless, the literature, over the last century, abounds with attempts to describe all of the standard variables of chemical thermodynamics, such as internal energy , heat , volume , work , bonds "≡", substrate "socially", via social internal energy, social heat, social volume, social work, social bonds (or human chemical bonds), social substrate (and social catalysts), and so on.
- Thims, Libb. (2020). “A Theoretical Torricelli Social Barometer to Measure Social Pressure” (abs) (YT), International Thermodynamics 2.0 Conference, , session T08, Jun 22-24.
- Thims, Libb. (2021). Human Chemical Thermodynamics — Chemical Thermodynamics Applied to the Humanities: Meaning, Morality, Purpose; Sociology, Economics, Ecology; History, Philosophy, Government, Anthropology, Politics, Business, Jurisprudence; Religion, Relationships, Warfare, and Love (pdf). Publisher.
- Schott diagrams – Hmolpedia 2020.
- Statue of Denis Papin on the second story ledge of the Louvre Museum, Paris.
- Van’t Hoff equilibrium box – Hmolpedia 2020.
- System – Hmolpedia 2020.