Human Societies: A Curious Application of Thermodynamics

Human Societies (Muller, 1998)
First page to Erich Muller's 1998 Chemical Engineering Education article “Human Societies: a Curious Application of Thermodynamics”, wherein people are likened via a "curious analogy" to molecules, according to which social forces are described as intermolecular forces, and drives are quantified via thermodynamic potentials. [1]
In famous publications, “Human Societies: a Curious Application of Thermodynamics” is four-page 1998 article by Venezuelan-born English chemical engineer Erich Muller, wherein, using chemical thermodynamics, he attempts to show how social forces are enlarged versions of intermolecular forces and how chemical thermodynamics can be used to explain the drives of social forces. [1]

In 1998, Muller, “Human Societies: a Curious Application of Thermodynamics”, opened to the following bold statement:

“There is a loose analogy between intermolecular forces that govern the observable behavior of fluid systems and the social forces that drive human behavior. Based on this premise, at least in principle, we can use thermodynamics to describe social systems.”

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The Muller dispersion force (social analogy to Van der Waals dispersion force) and Muller stability ratio (social equivalent to the Gottman stability ratio) are based on this paper. [2]

Muller's article served as the prototype article model of the 2005-launched Journal of Human Thermodynamic.

1. Müller , Erich. A. (1998). “Human Societies: a Curious Application of Thermodynamics” (pdf) (abs) (scan), Chemical Engineering Education, Vol. 1, No. 3, Summer.
2. (a) Thims, Libb. (2005). “(Pre) Journal of Human Thermodynamics: Model Plan”, IoHT Publications.
(b) Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume Two), (preview), (Section: "Müller dispersion forces", pgs. 629-638). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.

The following are works that cite Muller’s 1997 article:

● Canon, Gabriel P. (2003). “Teaching Chemistry and Everyday Life: Delighting and Instructing” (“Didáctica de la química y vida cotidiana: Delectando pariterque monendo”), Annals of the Royal Spanish Society of Chemistry (Anales de la Real Sociedad Española de Química),
● Chen, Jing. (2008). “Understanding Social Systems: A Free Energy Perspective”, September, 16. pgs. 1-10. Social Science Resource Network.
● Keith, Jason M., Silverstein, David L., and Visco, Donald. (2008). “Ideas to Consider for Chemical Engineering Educators Teaching a New ‘Old’ Course: Freshman and Sophomore Level Courses” (pdf), AIChE papers,
● Jaffe, Klaus. (2013). “Insights on Cooperation Electricity Consumption in Human Aggregates from a Thermodynamic Analysis: Implications for Energy Policies” (abs) (Ѻ) , Global Energy Policy and Security: Lecture Notes in Energy, 16:59-74.
● Aguilar-Arias, Jaime L. (2014). “Chemical Engineering and Complexity, an Undissipated Structure … Yet”, 20th Brazilian Congress of Chemical Engineering (Congresso Brasilerro de Enenharia Quimica, XX) (pdf), Florianopolis, Brazil, Oct 19-22.

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