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The poet Saʿdī (seated left) received by the ruler of Fars. Mughal India, 1602.

Sadi Carnot, named for the Persian poet Saʿdī of Shiraz,

discovered the Second Law of Thermodynamics

which Einstein thought the firmest thing in physics.

When his father was a Director of France,

Napoleon’s lover Joséphine babysat him. General Bonaparte, hastening home from war in Italy,

messaged ahead to her famously : “J’arrive, chérie ! Don’t wash!”

The motive power of an engine, Sadi later showed,

results from the transfer of energy from a warm body to a colder one.

(The dashing general might’ve told him that!)

Life's reverse entropy—unites what it disperses,

transferring, maybe, molecules from your warm body to mine.

Though in my longevity I lack the Corsican's élan—

hélas, I've passed the climactericand am no Persian poet,

I'd be happy a bit of warming to receive.

Permit me once again to quote Napoleon's splendid message: “J’arrive!”

Sadi Carnot in 1813, in the uniform of a student at the École Polytechnique

Sadi died of cholera in 1832, aged 36, in an asylum where he had been confined for "mania." Fearing infection, they buried his papers with him, which were thus lost. He got little credit for his discovery of what is called the Carnot cycle until Clausius restated it in 1850.

Note: The French expression “J’arrive!” means “I’m on my way! I’m coming!”


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