Third Law of Thermodynamics

Third Law of Thermodynamics

For the past two days, we have been examining the Laws of Thermodynamics. As I said before, In 41 years of teaching high school physics, I learned that the hard part of teaching is getting kids to want to understand physics concepts. The concepts are easy if the students can see some application to their daily lives. But if they don’t understand the relevance of the subject, they won’t try to understand it. To get their attention, I called the unit on thermodynamics “Break the Thermo law and You Don’t Survive!” The three laws of thermodynamics are fundamental truths that apply to all of science, and we would not be alive without them. Today, we look at the Third Law of Thermodynamics.

THIRD LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS: Absolute Zero is a Limit that, Like the Speed of Light, Can Be Approached but Not Reached.

This statement of the Third Law is called the Nernst heat theorem, and, like the other two laws, it just makes sense. If matter were to reach absolute zero, then all atomic motion would stop. If electrons stopped orbiting around the positive nucleus of atoms, what would happen? Opposites attract, and the electrons would be pulled in by the protons in the nucleus. Matter would simply dissolve!

Interestingly, the Bible says that at the end of time, matter will dissolve (2 Peter 3:10). If you stop time and all motion that depends upon time, the Third Law of Thermodynamics tells us that all matter would dissolve. The design of the cosmos shows wisdom and purpose.

The laws of thermodynamics and the multiplicity of other laws that are known to science, all show that the creation is logical and open to understanding. We can see the evidence for the existence of a Creator of the cosmos through the things He has made (Romans 1:19-22). Understanding what God has done and something about how He has done it is what science is all about. Studying God’s creation is a wonderful, useful, and practical way to grow intellectually and spiritually.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Note: Laws are quoted from Physics, Principles and Problems, Glencoe Publications of Macmillan/McGraw Hill, PO Box 508, Columbus, Ohio 43216, pages 256-259.