Laws of Thermodynamics

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The laws of thermodynamics are general principles which apply to all physical and biological processes. They determine the conditions under which these processes can or cannot take place. There are two laws.

The First Law of thermodynamics states that: 'the total energy of a system and its surroundings is constant'. Therefore, energy can neither be created or destroyed, instead it can take up different forms such as chemical, electrical, gravitational and heat. Heat is the most common form of energy and is the 'manifestation of the kinetic energy associated with the random motion of molecules' [1].

The Second Law of thermodynamics states that: the total entropy of a system plus its surroundings always increases. This law describes the flow of energy in processes which are irreversible. In these processes, the energy flow moves toward a more uniform distribution of the energy of the universe[2].


  1. Biochemistry. Seventh Edition. Page 11
  2. Chapter 7: Thermodynamics of Living Systems.

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