Afanassjewa and the Foundations of Thermodynamics

Jos Uffink, Giovanni Valente

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


We review aspects of Afanassjewa’s work on the foundations of thermodynamics from her 1925 paper on the Second Law and her 1956 book Grundlagen der Thermodynamik. We argue that her work contained several valuable original insights in these foundations, often much ahead of her times. In particular, we discuss how her 1956 book anticipated and showed the way to solve an alleged paradox about reversible processes raised by Norton (2014, 2016) and discuss the remarkable comments in her 1925 paper on the asymmetry between work and heat exchange —which still awaits more common recognition—, and on the conceptual possibility of negative absolute temperatures, long before Ramsey (1956) made this an accepted physical possibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWomen in the History of Philosophy and Sciences
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages28
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameWomen in the History of Philosophy and Sciences
ISSN (Print)2523-8760
ISSN (Electronic)2523-8779

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
J.U. also thanks the Vossius Centre for the History of Humanities and Sciences at the University of Amsterdam and the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities at Utrecht University, the University of Geneva, the Polytechnical University of Milano, The University of Salzburg, and the Erwin Schrödinger Institute at the University of Vienna, for financial support and audiences at these various locations for their feedback.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


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