Premise: Energy seems to many of us, especially those who have studied science, to be a pervasive concept so ingrained in our thinking that it appears to be obvious. In fact, the very concept of energy is one of the most incredible inventions--or is it discoveries--of the human mind. The process of coming to the concept was long and full of difficulties, but the outcome is indeed amazing: a property of nature that we can measure and predict, and, even more remarkable, that satisfies a general law of nature, its conservation. From it, we went on to learn to describe states of arbitrarily complex systems through the laws of thermodynamics. These laws underlie how we find ways to use energy efficiently. Traditional thermodynamics was very useful for this purpose (and really was invented to do just that). However it has proved possible to go beyond the thermodynamics of the 19th Century, and to extend the subject to find even more powerful ways to improve the efficiency of our use of energy, by taking into account the reality that we want results in finite time, and that we can't wait arbitrarily long to get those results--which was a built-in "best limit" of the traditional approach to the subject.
Bio: Steve Berry, born April 9, 1931 in Denver, Colorado. Before his university years he was a finalist in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. He went to Harvard as an undergraduate, and a graduate student. After doing research at the University of Michigan, he became an Assistant Professor at Yale, and then moved to The University of Chicago in 1964. He is a Member and former Home Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences, a MacArthur Prize Fellow, a Fellow and former Vice-President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Foreign Honorary Member of the Danish Academy of Arts and Sciences, among other fellowships and honors. He is the James Franck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at The University of Chicago. He has been an influential figure in chemistry and its applications not the least of which is his contributions to modern thermodynamics. Besides science, he enjoys skiing, hiking, fishing and music among other diversions.
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