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I see that many papers written on fundamentals of thermodynamics(theory) nowadays are by some old professors somewhere(there may be exceptions). Most active young faculty don't seem to be seriously interested in reinterpreting thermodynamics like nonequlibrium thermodynamics i.e. continuing the work of Ilya Prigogine etc. So is this worth while for a graduate student starting his research career to work in this area? Any open problems a fresh graduate student can aim to solve theoretically?

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closed as too broad by Emilio Pisanty, Waffle's Crazy Peanut, Jim, David Z Oct 21 '13 at 16:50

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Not quite sure if that's what you're looking for (that's why it's a comment), but you might also be interested in non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, which has applications in biology, physics, computer simulation, computational statistics,... I can think of a few interesting theoretical questions, most of them related to my work. You might be interested in Crook's theorem, the Jarzynski equality and in the work of John Chodera (I'm heavily biased towards simulation-related stuff). – Simeon Carstens Oct 8 '13 at 9:25

If you're interested in the foundations of thermodynamics on the quantum level then there is plenty of work being done, including by young 'uns. Actually it's pretty fashionable, in the UK quantum physics community at least. If you like the sound of this then you could look up, for example, the work of Sandu Popescu, Jonathan Oppenheim, David Jennings, Janet Anders, Vlatko Vedral, Robert Spekkens and co-workers. Obviously that list of names is heavily biased by my own limited knowledge and preference.

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