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Thread: Thermodynamics: Path Dependence involving Step Processes

  1. #1 Thermodynamics: Path Dependence involving Step Processes 
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    Jan 2012
    Consider two masses being lifted a height of H by the expansion of a certain gas produced by a chemical reaction. If the masses are lifted in very small increments, the process will be reversible. If they are lifted in one step, the process will be far from reversible.

    Conceptually, I don't understand how it is even possible to have this expansion occur in one step. I would think that technically, a one step process would be broken down into many different steps; for example, when I move my arm from one place to another and we look at frame by frame footage, we will see that the full motion of my arm moving consists of very small motions. Is it the act of starting and stopping the expansion that would create these "steps"?

    Thanks in Advance!

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