A important extensive property of all systems in thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory, quantifying their disorder (randomness), i.e., our lack of information about them. It characterizes the degree to which the energy of the system is *not* available to do useful work.

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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 ...
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Where is the flaw in this machine that decreases the entropy of a closed system?

I was thinking about a completely unrelated problem (Quantum Field Theory Peskin & Schroeder kind of unrelated!) when the diagram below sprang into my mind for no apparent reason. After some ...
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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, ...
43
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Why is information indestructible?

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 ...
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Is there a thermodynamic limit on how efficiently you can solve a Rubik's cube?

Suppose I build a machine which will be given Rubik's cubes that have been scrambled to one of the $\sim 2^{65}$ possible positions of the cube, chosen uniformly at random. Is it possible for the ...
35
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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 ...
32
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7answers
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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 ...
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How much mass can colliding black holes lose as gravitational waves?

Concerning the recent detection of gravitational waves produced by colliding black holes, it has been reported that a significant percentage of the combined mass was lost in the resulting production ...
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934 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 $\...
27
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5answers
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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 ...
26
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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 ...
25
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4answers
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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 ...
23
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407 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 ...
23
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8answers
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Entropy is…disorder?

As I read somewhere, it said that the universe is heading toward disorder a.k.a entropy increasing. Now as far as I know from the second law of thermodynamics it states that entropy is indeed ...
23
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3answers
1k 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 ...
22
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3answers
952 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 ...
21
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5answers
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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?
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13answers
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What is entropy really?

On this site, change in entropy is defined as the amount of energy dispersed divided by the absolute temperature. But I want to know: What is the definition of entropy? Here, entropy is defined as ...
20
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7answers
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Why don't photons split up into multiple lower energy versions of themselves?

A photon could spontaneously split up into two or more versions of itself and all the conservation laws I'm aware of would not be violated by this process. (I think.) I've given this some thought, and ...
19
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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 $\rho_0=\frac{1}{Z}e^{-\beta H}$ (...
19
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5answers
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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. ...
18
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6answers
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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 ...
18
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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 ...
17
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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. http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/...
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What is the entropy of a pure state?

Well, zero of course. Because $S = -\text{tr}(\rho \ln \rho)$ and $\rho$ for a pure state gives zero entropy. But... all quantum states are really pure states right? A mixed state just describes ...
17
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3answers
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Why do many people link entropy to chaos?

I understand that, in thermodynamics, entropy has a precise definition (the infinitesimal change of entropy being the infinitesimal heat transfer divided by the temperature), and that in statistical ...
17
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452 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 ...
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What was the entropy of the universe at the time of the Big Bang?

(I asked this question in Philosophy.SE; but I was advised to direct it here, despite it is, in my opinion, somewhat too speculative for physics.SE). High entropy generally means high disorder; and ...
16
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Why doesn't the entropy increase when two similar gases mix with each other?

Entropy increases when two substances mix with each other. For example, the entropy of mixing of two different gases are given by $$\Delta S= 2Nk\ln\frac{V_f}{V_i}\;.$$ But, the entropy doesn't ...
16
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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 ...
16
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4answers
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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 ?
15
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5answers
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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 $E$....
15
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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.
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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
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825 views

How does dark matter collapse?: Entropy considerations

Inspired by this question. I believe that the usual explanation that preserves the second law of thermodynamics as an astrophysical gas cloud collapses under gravity is that the gas must heat and ...
14
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2answers
341 views

Doesn't entropy increase backwards in time, too?

In statistical explanations of entropy, we can often read about a (thought) experiment of the following sort. We have a bunch of particles in box, packed densely in one of the corners. We assume some ...
14
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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 ...
14
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3answers
428 views

Is the flatness of space a measure of entropy?

This is a bit quirky: For a very long time I've found Stephen Hawking's evaporating small black holes a lot more reasonable and intuitive than large black holes. The main reason is that gravity is ...
14
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2answers
326 views

Does the radius of the Universe correspond to its total entropy?

I heard a claim that due to holographic principle, the surface area of the cosmic horizon corresponds to the universe's total entropy. As such the initial state had zero surface area and later ...
13
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3answers
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Is this thought experiment violating the the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

There is an adiabatic box, with a board in the middle, which is adiabatic too.The board separates the box into two parts and there is a small hole in it, which is close to a coil and the hole has a ...
13
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How does the heat death looks like from inside the system?

As this answer points out, any human would first freeze rather than experience the heat death. However, assuming hypothetically that we could make some robot live at such low temperature (or even ...
13
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2answers
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Why is entropy additive?

Although it seems simple, I can't get the derivation correct. Here is my reasoning: $P(S)=P(A)P(B)$ Where P is the probability and S, A, and B denote different systems. $S_A=-P(A)\ln P(A)$ and $...
13
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6answers
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Why was the universe in an 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 ...
13
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2answers
640 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) ...
13
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Does measurement, quantum in particular, always increase the total entropy?

Measurement of a quantum observable (in an appropriate, old-fashioned sense) necessarily involves coupling to a system with a macroscopically large number of degrees of freedom. Entanglement with this ...
13
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2answers
459 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
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3answers
905 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 ...
12
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9answers
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Entropy increase vs Conservation of information (QM)

Unitarity of quantum mechanics prohibits information destruction. On the other hand, the second law of thermodynamics claims entropy to be increasing. If entropy is to be thought of as a measure of ...
12
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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 ...
12
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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 ...