Physics is a discipline that studies the most common laws of material movement and the basic structure of matter. Among them, thermodynamics is an Indispensable branch in physics, which is used as the mechanical and chemical industries, and the first law of thermodynamics is that thermodynamic systems are essential cornerstones. The first law of thermodynamics is essentially the law of conservation and transformation of energy. This is a universal law in nature. It has been widely divided into various fields. The proposal and improvement of this law have made essential contributions to the development of human society and science.
At the same time, the first law of thermodynamics is also an indispensable knowledge in college physics. Teaching physical theory at STEM requires students to understand the principles and applications of thermodynamics. For example, students of the International Foundation Programme (IFP) of Science and Technology at the University of Bristol (University of Bristol), especially those who intend to choose energy and manufacturing majors, by learning this law, they will have a basic understanding of thermodynamics and the natural sciences. In the lectures on science and engineering physics, the reading list recommended by the instructor, ‘Advanced Physics’ published by Steve Adams (2013) is recommended as the preferred reading material, which is primarily an excellent textbook designed for new students initially involved in advanced physics, which covers all the basic knowledge of the thermodynamics section, then subdivides, summarizes, and appropriately expands them.
In this review, the chapter on the first law of thermodynamics in this book will be compared with another online experimental report on this law, which was written by several professors and experts from different famous universities. Both sources are reliable, but the book ‘Advanced Physics ‘pays more attention to the presentation of the basic concepts of the law and the explanation of the historical background, which is more conducive to the understanding of IFP students. This article will compare and analyse the author’s environment, audience, subject, and content, language, and style of the two, and discuss the benefits of both, how to benefit the IFP students.
Regarding the background of the source, the second edition of 2013 released ‘Advanced Physics’ and made a lot of modifications and optimizations to ensure that its content is relatively new. Author Steve Adams is a professor in the Department of Physics at Oxford University. During 20-year teaching career, Adams published several textbooks on physics, including ‘Relativity: An Introduction to Space-Time Physics’ and ‘Forefront: 20th Century Physics’. ‘Advanced physics’ is listed as one of the must-read contents, and it is used as a reference book for A-level exams by many famous schools. Adams’ writing style is rigorous and logical, and the layout is flexible. The written content involves many documents and is closely related to reality. It has a high degree of credibility. Similarly, the professors who wrote the preliminary report included Christian H. Kautz and Paula RL Heron. The former is now a professor at the Hamburg University of Technology, leading the engineering education research team dedicated to the development of mathematics, science, and engineering mechanics education. The latter is a professor at the University of Washington ‘s Department of Physics. The founder and co-chairman, as well as the associate editor of Physical Review (PER), and participated in the second edition of ‘Introduction to Physics’ has been used in more than 200 institutions in the United States and has been translated into German and Spanish. Although the styles of the two materials are different, from the author’s outstanding educational achievements, it can be considered that the content written is professional and reliable, so this article will evaluate and compare their respective characteristics.
In terms of purpose, this book is aiming at newcomers to university physics, so the construction of knowledge will start from the most fundamental part, let students understand the concepts of thermal energy and energy, and then analyse the expansion of the law of thermodynamics around it. Therefore, this book will not stop at explaining the first law, its purpose is to use it as a link to help students understand the concept of thermodynamics and combine it with other parts (such as mechanics, electromagnetic knowledge), thus with physical, logical thinking ability. Relatively speaking, the audience’s scope of the preliminary report is more precise, and students need to understand the meaning of the law truly. Because in a higher academic year or when entering the society, the theoretical solution of the theory cannot be ambiguous, it requires a proficient application. The report aims to enable students who have mastered the first law to understand and reflect on their insufficient understanding of theory fully. Therefore, the content and language organization of the two materials are inevitably different.
Regarding the explanation of theoretical knowledge, the experimental report focuses more on summarizing the experimental phenomena first, investigating the students ‘understanding and application ability of the first law, and asking questions to test whether they can establish the relationship between volume and temperature, or introduce particles and molecules models to explain the relevant concepts, find out the areas of knowledge that students are confusing, explain the principles in turn by reflecting on the problem, and show some contradictory and wrong understandings through vivid examples. This is cleverly done. Because if it is simply to show the more complex application principles of the law, readers who do not understand the basic concepts will still have no effect, and it will only deepen the misunderstanding of the law and cause problems in thinking about the logical direction.
On the other hand, the book seems to provide only the most basic understanding, but this is a deliberate simplification, highlighting the analysis of the essential concepts of the first law. By disassembling the knowledge points of a single part and connecting the logical framework of the entire chapter, the reader can fully understand the role of the law when studying the thermodynamics part, and pave the way for the later parts of this chapter such as the heat engine and the gas law. And most of the combined examples are historically exciting and classic examples, which are more likely to attract readers’ interest and understand the historical background of the theory.
The differences in the language styles of the two sources and forms with different materials also lead to different choices for students. The experimental report uses an orthodox style, clear layout, from asking questions, theoretical verification data sorting and analysis, the explanation of each part strictly follows the backbone, is very logical, and has a large number of experimental data and tables, and detailed Explanation and discussion in many aspects. It can make readers reflect on how well they understand the law, but it inevitably fails to resonate with the report to increase reading interest. So as mentioned above, it is more suitable for professionals to learn. On the contrary, Adams used a loose writing style when explaining this chapter in the book and noted some professional terminology concepts in the left and right columns. Readers cannot quickly feel obscure during the learning process. This is also a feature of the book’s popularity, more plainly speaking, it is a tool book suitable for exams. And this is also an advantage that the preliminary report cannot have.
Because in daily use, ‘heat’ is closely related to temperature, for the application and expansion of the law, the experimental report attempts to formulate a simple framework about the law, and the application in the classroom is more successful, and by introducing mechanical work And the ideal gas concept to improve the feasibility of this tutorial. This ensures that the law can be applied to the idea of work in simple mechanical engineering before students are exposed to more complex thermal knowledge. Compared to this, Adams’ book simply provides the application in basic thermal experiments and tests and lacks a higher level of understanding.
In summary, this article analyses Adams’ books and Heron’s preliminary report to understand the principles of the first law of thermodynamics and makes an objective and comprehensive comparison of the two. Analyse their characteristics from the perspective of audience, theme, and language style. Both are undoubtedly credible and authoritative, and both can benefit the students of IFP physics majors. However, for students, the priorities of the two are different. Adams’s book is simple and easy to understand, and it is more suitable for students who learn, along with the progress of teaching. The preliminary report of Heron et al. Is logically rigorous, and it is worth pondering and discussing how to apply it in mechanics and electricity the role. Therefore, combining the two to study is the ideal method, which can enable people to present the first law in different cases.