What is Thermodynamics?

The word thermodynamics was coined by William Thompson (Lord Kelvin) in 1749.
It comes from the Greek words: therme (heat) and dynamis (power).
The name heat-power is appropriate because thermodynamics developed from efforts to explain the conversion of heat into power by steam engines.

Timeline of the Early Developments of Thermodynamics

Newcomen invented an improved steam engine
Count Rumford began canon-boring experiments (dealing with the conversion of work into heat)
Mayer (1842), Joule (1847) and Helmholtz (1847) independently arrived at the conservation of energy principle
Carnot published "Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire"
Clausius formulated the Second Law of Thermodynamics
Timeline of thermodynamics
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Ch 1, Lesson A, Page 1 - What is Thermodynamics?