No Free Lunch: the Second Law of Thermodynamics


Why is it easier to mess up your bedroom than to make it tidy?  Why does a warm cup of tea cool off in your living room?  

Why doesn't a 500-calorie cheeseburger you've eaten turn into 500 calories of you? These examples reflect one of the fundamental

laws of nature: the second law of thermodynamics.  In this course students will learn about this most important of laws with hands-on

experiments in the laboratory using physical and biological systems.  We will design our experiments, make predictions, carry out the

experiments, and analyze our results.  An understanding of this law has implications for our own personal behavior, the behavior

of our society, and the behavior of our species.