A important property of all systems in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Entropy characterizes the degree to which the energy of the system is *not* available to do useful work

learn more… | top users | synonyms

74
votes
1answer
2k views

Is it necessary to consume energy to perform computation?

As far as I know, today most of the computers are made from semiconductor devices, so the energy consumed all turns into the heat emitted into space. But I wonder, is it necessary to consume energy ...
38
votes
5answers
2k views

What is information?

We're all familiar with basic tenets such as "information cannot be transmitted faster than light" and ideas such as information conservation in scenarios like Hawking radiation (and in general, ...
30
votes
7answers
3k views

Homemade salad dressing separates into layers after it sits for a while. Why doesn't this violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

The oil, vinegar and other liquids in homemade salad dressing separate into layers after sitting for a while, making the mixture become more organized as time evolves. Why doesn't this violate the ...
27
votes
6answers
3k views

Why is information indestructable?

I really can't understand what Leonard Susskind means when he says that information is indestructible. Is that information that is lost, through the increase of entropy really recoverable? He ...
25
votes
7answers
638 views

An entropy of the Wigner function

Is there an entropy that one can use for the Wigner quasi-probability distribution? (In the sense of a phase-space probability distribution, not - just von Neumann entropy.) One cannot simply use ...
22
votes
3answers
683 views

Will the black hole size increase?

I was thinking about the following thought experiment, but wasn't sure about its outcome. Suppose there is a black-hole and I enter it with a partitioned box containing two different gases on either ...
21
votes
3answers
248 views

Does entropy measure extractable work?

Entropy has two definitions, which come from two different branches of science: thermodynamics and information theory. Yet, they both are thought to agree. Is it true? Entropy, as seen from ...
21
votes
7answers
964 views

How is $\frac{dQ}{T}$ measure of randomness of system?

I am studying entropy and its hard for me to catch up what exactly is entropy. Many articles and books write that entropy is the measure of randomness or disorder of the system. They say when a gas ...
18
votes
3answers
534 views

Intuitive understanding of the entropy equation

In thermodynamics, entropy is defined as $ d S = \dfrac{\delta q_{\rm }}{T}$. This definition guarantees that heat will transfer from hot to cold, which is the second law of thermodynamics. But, why ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Where does deleted information go?

I've heard that, in classical and quantum mechanics, the law of conservation of information holds. I always wonder where my deleted files and folders have gone on my computer. It must be somewhere I ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

How do you prove $S=-\sum p\ln p$?

How does one prove the formula for entropy $S=-\sum p\ln p$? Obviously systems on the microscopic level are fully determined by the microscopic equations of motion. So if you want to introduce a law ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Why isn't absolute $0 K$ temperature possible?

So $T$ is defined as $$T = \left(\frac{\partial E}{\partial S}\right)$$ and $S$ is defined as $$S = k_B \ln \Omega$$ where $\Omega$ is the number of accessible states of the system for a given ...
15
votes
4answers
3k views

Why does the nature always prefer low energy and maximum entropy?

Why does the nature always prefer low energy and maximum entropy? I've just learned electrostatics and I still have no idea why like charges repel each other. ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

How can it be that the beginning universe had a high temperature and a low entropy at the same time?

The Big Bang theory assumes that our universe started from a very/infinitely dense and extremely/infinitely hot state. But on the other side, it is often claimed that our universe must have been ...
15
votes
4answers
362 views

Comments on entropy and the direction of time in Landau and Lifshitz's Statistical Mechanics

In Landau and Lifshitz's Stat Mech Volume I is the comment: However, despite this symmetry, quantum mechanics does in fact involve an important non-equivalence of the two directions of time. ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Is a world with constant/decreasing entropy theoretically impossible?

I'm not 110% sure exactly what I mean by this question. It was sparked by a friend who said he wished the law of entropy were reversed, so he wouldn't have to worry about cleaning the bathroom. ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there any proof for the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

Are there any analytical proofs for the 2nd law of thermodynamics? Or is it based entirely on empirical evidence?
14
votes
1answer
305 views

How is the logarithmic correction to the entropy of a non extremal black hole derived?

I`ve just read, that for non extremal black holes, there exists a logarithmic (and other) correction(s) to the well known term proportional to the area of the horizon such that $S = \frac{A}{4G} + K ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

Entropy of radiation emitted into space

In several papers I see something equivalent to the following expression for the entropy of radiation given by an astronomical object such as the Sun (assuming the object can be approximated as a ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Can a single classical particle have any entropy?

recently I have had some exchanges with @Marek regarding entropy of a single classical particle. I always believed that to define entropy one must have some distribution. In Quantum theory, a single ...
12
votes
4answers
885 views

Ignorance in statistical mechanics

Consider this penny on my desc. It is a particular piece of metal, well described by statistical mechanics, which assigns to it a state, namely the density matrix $\rho_0=\frac{1}{Z}e^{-\beta H}$ ...
12
votes
2answers
404 views

The entropic cost of tying knots in polymers

Imagine I take a polymer like polyethylene, of length $L$ with some number of Kuhn lengths $N$, and I tie into into a trefoil knot. What is the difference in entropy between this knotted polymer and ...
12
votes
2answers
247 views

Bekenstein entropy black hole v.s Hawking entropy black hole

Historically, Bekenstein estimated the entropy associated with a black hole in 1973, obtaining: $$ S_B = \frac{\ln(2)k_Bc^3}{8\pi\hbar G}A. $$ He already acknowledges in his article that his estimates ...
11
votes
3answers
436 views

Intuitive understanding of the definition of entropy

In Wikipedia, the definition of entropy goes like this: $ d S = \dfrac{\delta q_{\rm }}{T}$. The literal interpretation of this equation is that some amount of heat transferred into a system, if the ...
11
votes
2answers
403 views

black hole no-hair theorems vs. entropy and surface area

I was revisiting some old popular science books a while ago and two statements struck me as incompatible. No-hair theorems: a black hole is fully-described by just a few numbers (mass, spin etc) ...
10
votes
6answers
736 views

How do you prove the second law of thermodynamics from statistical mechanics?

How do you prove the second law of thermodynamics from statistical mechanics? To prove entropy will only increase with time? How to prove? Please guide.
10
votes
1answer
181 views

Principle of Caratheodory and The Second Law of Thermodynamics

Background Constantin Carathéodory formulated thermodynamics on a purely mathematical axiomatic foundation. His statement of the second law is known as the Principle of Carathéodory, which may be ...
10
votes
1answer
483 views

Motivation for the use of Tsallis entropy

Every now and again I hear something about Tsallis entropy, $$ S_q(\{p_i\}) = \frac{1}{q-1}\left( 1- \sum_i p_i^q \right), \tag{1} $$ and I decided to finally get around to investigating it. I haven't ...
9
votes
2answers
5k views

Can entropy be equal to zero?

I've searched for it but I only found contradicting answers from "scientists": Dr. David Balson, Ph.D. states: "entropy in a system can never be equal to zero". Sam Bowen does not refutes the ...
9
votes
2answers
142 views

Why do we remember the past but not the future?

The question is sometimes referred to as the "psychological arrow of time" (Hawking, 1985). Here the past is understood as a moment or time when the entropy of the universe was lower, and contrarily ...
9
votes
1answer
66 views

Renyi fractal dimension $D_q$ for non-trivial $q$

For a probability distribution $P$, Renyi fractal dimension is defined as $$D_q = \lim_{\epsilon\rightarrow 0} \frac{R_q(P_\epsilon)}{\log(1/\epsilon)},$$ where $R_q$ is Renyi entropy of order $q$ ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does the low entropy at the big bang require an explanation? (cosmological arrow of time)

I have read Sean Carrol's book. I have listened to Roger Penrose talk on "Before the Big Bang". Both are offering to explain the mystery of low entropy, highly ordered state, at the Big Bang. Since ...
9
votes
4answers
480 views

Did really everything begin with a state with very low entropy?

As emphasized by Penrose many years ago, cosmology can only make sense if the world started in a state of exceptionally low entropy. The low entropy starting point is the ultimate reason that the ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

How efficient is a desktop computer?

As I understand it (and admittedly it's a weak grasp), a computer processes information irreversibly (AND gates, for example), and therefore has some minimum entropy increase associated with its ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

Does the scientific community consider the Loschmidt paradox resolved? If so what is the resolution?

Does the scientific community consider the Loschmidt paradox resolved? If so what is the resolution? I have never seen dissipation explained, although what I have seen a lot is descriptions of ...
8
votes
7answers
1k views

Is there a four-dimensional definition of entropy?

It seems odd that entropy is usually only defined for a system in a single 'slice' of time or spacelike region. Can one define the entropy of a system defined by a 4d region of spacetime, in such a ...
8
votes
6answers
6k views

Why does maximal entropy imply equilibrium?

From a purely thermodynamical point of view, why does that entropy have to be a maximum at equilibrium? Say there is equilibrium, i.e. no net heat flow, why can the entropy not be sitting at a ...
8
votes
5answers
4k views

Why was the universe in a extraordinarily low-entropy state right after the big bang?

Let me start by saying that I have no scientific background whatsoever. I am very interested in science though and I'm currently enjoying Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos. I'm at chapter 7 and ...
8
votes
5answers
457 views

Can entropy of Universe be constant?

If I understand entropy correctly, then for example two objects orbiting a centre of mass have lower entropy than when said objects eventually crash into each other and form a new one. So let's say ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Entropy and the principle of least action

Is there any link between the law of maximum entropy and the principle of least action. Is it possible to derive one from the other ?
8
votes
1answer
120 views

What precisely does the 2nd law of thermo state, considering that entropy depends on how we define macrostate?

Boltzmann's definition of entropy is $\sigma = \log \Omega$, where $\Omega$ is the number of microstates consistent with a given macrostate. If I understand correctly, this means that it only makes ...
8
votes
1answer
227 views

Will entropy continue to increase even if the universe begins to contract?

If the universe is heading for a big crunch, when the universe starts to collapse will entropy decrease and the arrow of time consequently reverse or not? I'm interested in the explanations, not just ...
8
votes
2answers
202 views

Why aren't we surrounded by Black holes?

The Bekenstein bound is a limit to the amount of entropy a thermodynamical system can have. The bound is given by the following expression: \begin{equation} S \leq \frac{2 \pi k R E}{\hbar c} ...
8
votes
2answers
245 views

Casimir effect as an entropic force

When I first learned about the depletion interaction, my initial reaction was that it looks very similar to the Casimir effect. On making this remark to the professor, he replied somewhat mystically: ...
8
votes
2answers
373 views

Entropy of the Sun

Is it possible to measure or calculate the total entropy of the Sun? Assuming it changes over time, what are its current first and second derivatives w.r.t. time? What is our prediction on its ...
8
votes
1answer
214 views

Why does $S = k_B \ln W$ not always apply?

I thought for a long time that the Boltzmann formula for entropy, $S = k_B \ln W$, was a universally true statement, or rather the definition of entropy from the perspective of statistical mechanics. ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

How is thermodynamic entropy defined? What is its relationship to information entropy?

I read that thermodynamic entropy is a measure of the number of microenergy states. What is the derivation for $S=k\log N$, where $k$ is Boltzmann constant, $N$ number of microenergy states. How is ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

Perpetual motion machine of the second kind possible in nano technology?

First of all sorry for my English - it is not my native language. During my engineering studies at the university the thermodynamics professor told us that the "second law of thermodynamics is not ...
7
votes
4answers
575 views

Definition of the entropy

In physics, the word entropy has important physical implications as the amount of "disorder" of a system. In mathematics, a more abstract definition is used. The (Shannon) entropy of a variable $X$ is ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How is information related to energy in physics?

I recently attended a talk by Dr. Ravi Gomatam on 'quantum reality', where the speaker suggested, that conservation of energy is not a fundamental law, and is conditional, but the conservation of ...