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Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

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Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, is cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. Unpredictable, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is fantasy with a real cutting edge.

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The First Law

In practice, however, perfectly isolated systems cannot exist. All systems transfer energy to their environment through radiation no matter how well insulated they are. The soup in the thermos will only stay hot for a few hours and will reach room temperature by the following day. In another example, white dwarf stars, the hot remnants of burned-out stars that no longer produce energy, can be insulated by light-years of near perfect vacuum in interstellar space, yet they will eventually cool down from several tens of thousands of degrees to near absolute zero due to energy loss through radiation.

The most common practical application of the First Law is the heat engine. Heat engines convert thermal energy into mechanical energy and vice versa.

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Most heat engines fall into the category of open systems. The basic principle of a heat engine exploits the relationships among heat, volume and pressure of a working fluid. This fluid is typically a gas, but in some cases it may undergo phase changes from gas to liquid and back to a gas during a cycle.

The First Law Trilogy

When gas is heated, it expands; however, when that gas is confined, it increases in pressure. If the bottom wall of the confinement chamber is the top of a movable piston, this pressure exerts a force on the surface of the piston causing it to move downward.

The Last Argument of Kings -By Joe Abercrombie (Book Three of the First Law Trilogy)

There are numerous variations on the basic heat engine. The water is converted to steam, and the pressure is then used to drive a piston that converts heat energy to mechanical energy.

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Refrigerators and heat pumps are heat engines that convert mechanical energy to heat. Most of these fall into the category of closed systems. When a gas is compressed, its temperature increases. This hot gas can then transfer heat to its surrounding environment. Then, when the compressed gas is allowed to expand, its temperature becomes colder than it was before it was compressed because some of its heat energy was removed during the hot cycle.

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This cold gas can then absorb heat energy from its environment. This is the working principal behind an air conditioner.


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The working fluid is transferred outdoors by a mechanical pump where it is heated by compression. Next, it transfers that heat to the outdoor environment, usually through an air-cooled heat exchanger. Then, it is brought back indoors, where it is allowed to expand and cool so it can absorb heat from the indoor air through another heat exchanger.