The study of large systems through coarse graining microscopic descriptions, providing a more detailed understanding of thermodynamics.

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What are the justifying foundations of statistical mechanics without appealing to the ergodic hypothesis?

This question was listed as one of the questions in the proposal (see here), and I didn't know the answer. I don't know the ethics on blatantly stealing such a question, so if it should be deleted or ...
33
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4answers
1k views

How exact is the analogy between statistical mechanics and quantum field theory?

Famously, the path integral of quantum field theory is related to the partition function of statistical mechanics via a Wick rotation and there is therefore a formal analogy between the two. I have a ...
32
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1answer
383 views

$(\mu,P,T)$ pseudo-ensemble: why is it not a proper thermodynamic ensemble?

While teaching statistical mechanics, and describing the common thermodynamic ensembles (microcanonical, canonical, grand canonical), I usually give a line on why there can be no $(\mu, P, T)$ ...
31
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7answers
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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 ...
29
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4answers
1k views

Is there a Lagrangian formulation of statistical mechanics?

In statistical mechanics, we usually think in terms of the Hamiltonian formalism. At a particular time $t$, the system is in a particular state, where "state" means the generalised coordinates and ...
27
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8answers
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Why is absolute zero considered to be asymptotical? Wouldn't regions such as massive gaps between galaxy clusters have temperatures of absolute zero?

Why is absolute zero considered to be asymptotical? Wouldn't regions such as massive gaps between galaxy clusters have temperatures of absolute zero? I just do not see why our model must work the way ...
26
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5answers
737 views

What are some critiques of Jaynes' approach to statistical mechanics?

Suggested here: What are the justifying foundations of statistical mechanics without appealing to the ergodic hypothesis? I was wondering about good critiques of Jaynes' approach to statistical ...
26
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0answers
262 views

Systematic approach to deriving equations of collective field theory to any order

The collective field theory (see nLab for a list of main historical references) which came up as a generalization of the Bohm-Pines method in treating plasma oscillations are often used in the study ...
24
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2answers
951 views

Why do we expect our theories to be independent of cutoffs?

Final edit: I think I pretty much understand now (touch wood)! But there's one thing I don't get. What's the physical reason for expecting the correlation functions to be independent of the cutoff? ...
22
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1answer
401 views

Mermin-Wagner theorem in the presence of hard-core interactions

It seems quite common in the theoretical physics literature to see applications of the "Mermin-Wagner theorem" (see wikipedia or scholarpedia for some limited background) to systems with hard-core ...
21
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3answers
269 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
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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 ...
20
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5answers
177 views

Connections and applications of SLE in physics

In probability theory, the Schramm–Loewner evolution, also known as stochastic Loewner evolution or SLE, is a conformally invariant stochastic process. It is a family of random planar curves that are ...
20
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3answers
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Prove that negative absolute temperatures are actually hotter than positive absolute temperatures

Could someone provide me with a mathematical proof of why, a system with an absolute negative Kelvin temperature (such that of a spin system) is hotter than any system with a positive temperature (in ...
20
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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 ...
18
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4answers
2k views

Home experiment to estimate Avogadro's number?

How to get an approximation of Avogadro or Boltzmann constant through experimental means accessible by an hobbyist ?
17
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1answer
2k views

How did Kelvin make this fascinating calculation?

I was just reading Lord Kelvin's "The Sorting Demon Of Maxwell" where I found this quote concerning what Maxwell's Demon can do: (He) can direct the energy of the moving molecules of a basin of ...
17
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2answers
1k views

Ising model for dummies

I am looking for some literature on the Ising model, but I'm having a hard time doing so. All the documentation I seem to find is way over my knowledge. Can you direct me to some documentation on it ...
17
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1answer
799 views

Why is the partition function called ''partition function''?

The partition function plays a central role in statistical mechanics. But why is it called ''partition function''?
16
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2answers
1k views

Is this Landau's other critical phenomena mistake?

There was an old argument by Landau that while the liquid gas transition can have a critical point, the solid-liquid transition cannot. This argument says that the solid breaks translational symmetry, ...
16
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1answer
172 views

Fluctuations of an interface with hammock potential

This question is related to that one. I ask it here since comments are too short for the extended discussion that was going on there. I am interested in a very simple interface model. To each ...
15
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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
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4answers
449 views

What is a simple intuitive way to see the relation between imaginary time (periodic) and temperature relation?

I guess I never had a proper physical intuition on, for example, the "KMS condition". I have an undergraduate student who studies calculation of Hawking temperature using the Euclidean path integral ...
15
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3answers
4k 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?
15
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3answers
510 views

Could temperature have been defined as $-\partial S/\partial U$?

When coming up with a definition of temperature, it's typical to start with an empirical definition that a system with a hotter temperature tends to lose heat to a system with a colder temperature. ...
15
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0answers
330 views

Can Lee-Yang zeros theorem account for triple point phase transition?

Now the prominent Lee-Yang theorem (or Physical Review 87, 410, 1952) has almost become a standard ingredient of any comprehensive statistical mechanics textbook. If the volume tends to infinity, ...
15
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4answers
377 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
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3answers
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How Non-abelian anyons arise in solid-state systems?

Recently it has been studied non-abelian anyons in some solid-state systems. These states are being studied for the creation and manipulation of qubits in quantum computing. But, how these ...
14
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4answers
532 views

Why is it often assumed that particles are found in energy eigenstates?

Energy eigenstates provide a convenient basis for solving quantum mechanics problems, but they are by no means the only allowable states. Yet it seems to me that particles/systems are assumed to be in ...
14
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1answer
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Onsager's Regression Hypothesis, Explained and Demonstrated

Onsager's 1931 regression hypothesis asserts that “…the average regression of fluctuations will obey the same laws as the corresponding macroscopic irreversible process". (Here is the links to ...
14
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1answer
137 views

Phase Transition in the Ising Model with Non-Uniform Magnetic Field

Consider the Ferromagnetic Ising Model ($J>0$) on the lattice $\mathbb{Z}^2$ with the Hamiltonian with boundary condition $\omega\in\{-1,1\}$ formally given by $$ ...
14
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2answers
58 views

Sampling typical clusters between distant points in subcritical percolation

I have on several occasions wondered how one might proceed in order to sample large subcritical Bernoulli bond-percolation clusters, say on the square lattice. More precisely, let's consider the ...
14
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1answer
339 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
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5answers
4k views

Difference between thermodynamics and statistical mechanics

I've just finished a class a few weeks ago which taught thermo and stat mech, and I still don't know the exact difference between the two. Can someone help clear this up for me? (Yeah it's sad, and ...
13
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4answers
3k views

What does Peter Parkers formula represent?

Okay, so the trailer for the new Spider Man movie is out and appearently our friendly physicist from the neightborhood came up with something. However I can't find out what this is. ...
13
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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 ...
13
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3answers
336 views

Chemical reaction as state transition?

When considering diffusion of chemicals, the reaction part is business of chemical kinetics, where the relevant characteristics of different substances come from collision theory together with some ...
13
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1answer
361 views

Does this type of phase transition exist?

The short version of this question is: Is there, or could there be, a system with a phase transition where adding a small amount of heat causes a discontinuous jump in its temperature? Below are ...
12
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2answers
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Temperature of a neutron star

In our everyday experience termperature is due to the motion of atoms, molecules, etc. A neutron star, where protons and electrons are fused together to form neutrons, is nothing but a huge nucleus ...
12
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2answers
469 views

Why is a hard sphere gas correlated?

In stat mech we calculated the radial distribution function (a.k.a. pair correlation function) for a classical gas by using perturbation theory for the BBGKY hierarchy. (I could post more details of ...
12
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4answers
926 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
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3answers
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trying to understand Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

I am a computer scientist interested in network theory. I have come across the Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) because of its connections to complex networks. What I know about condensation is the ...
12
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6answers
2k views

Why does the Boltzmann factor $e^{-E/kT}$ seem to imply that lower energies are more likely?

I'm looking for an intuitive understanding of the factor $$e^{-E/kT}$$ so often discussed. If we interpret this as a kind of probability distribution of phase space, so that $$\rho(E) = ...
12
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1answer
444 views

What are some predictions from string theory that say some crystalline materials “will end up in one of many lowest-energy ground states?”

I am referring to this recent "news feature" by Zeeya Merali from Nature magazine www.nature.com/uidfinder/10.1038/478302a. Here is the specific quote: "To make matters worse, some of the testable ...
11
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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 ...
11
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3answers
792 views

Is there a way to obtain the classical partition function from the quantum partition function in the limit $h \rightarrow 0$?

One would like to motivate the classical partition function in the following way: in the limit that the spacing between the energies (generally on the order of $h$) becomes small relative to the ...
11
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2answers
421 views

Can $10^{23}$ stars be treated with methods of statistical mechanics?

Statistical mechanics is used to describe systems with large number of particles ~$10^{23}$. The observable universe contains between $10^{22}$ to $10^{24}$ stars. Can we treat those many stars as a ...
11
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2answers
156 views

Discussions of the axioms of AQFT

The most recent discussion of what axioms one might drop from the Wightman axioms to allow the construction of realistic models that I'm aware of is Streater, Rep. Prog. Phys. 1975 38 771-846, ...
11
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2answers
249 views

Proof of Loss of Lorentz Invariance in Finite Temperature Quantum Field Theory

In the standard quantum field theory we always take the vacuum to be a invariant under Lorentz transformation. For simple cases, at least for free fields, is very simple to actually prove this. Now ...
11
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1answer
299 views

Are there any modern textbooks on statistical mechanics which don't ignore Gibbs' analysis of the microcanonical ensemble?

I have lately been reading Gibbs' book Elementary Principles in Statistical Mechanics, and I'm surprised how much in that book seems to have been ignored by later textbook writers. In particular, ...