Questions tagged [entropy]

An 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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93 votes
9 answers
14k views

What is time, does it flow, and if so what defines its direction?

This is an attempt to gather together the various questions about time that have been asked on this site and provide a single set of hopefully authoritative answers. Specifically we attempt to address ...
43 votes
14 answers
24k views

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 ...
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35 votes
8 answers
5k 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 ...
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85 votes
8 answers
26k views

Why is information indestructible?

I really can't understand what Leonard Susskind means when he says in the video Leonard Susskind on The World As Hologram that information is indestructible. Is that information that is lost, through ...
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30 votes
4 answers
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Is information entropy the same as thermodynamic entropy?

Context In one of his most popular books Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett makes an entropy joke: Knowledge equals Power, which equals Energy, which equals Mass Pratchett is a fantasy comedian and ...
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24 votes
7 answers
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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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33 votes
10 answers
8k 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 ...
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29 votes
5 answers
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Is a world with constant/decreasing entropy theoretically impossible?

We can imagine many changes to the laws of physics - you could scrap all of electromagnetism, gravity could be an inverse cubed law, even the first law of thermodynamics could hypothetically be broken ...
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29 votes
7 answers
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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 ...
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8 votes
4 answers
1k views

Chance of objects going against greater entropy?

My book uses the argument that the multiplicities of a few macrostates in a macroscopic object take up an extraordinarily large share of all possible microstates, such that even over the entire ...
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12 votes
3 answers
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How does the formation of a solar system not break the second law of thermodynamics?

Please forgive: I am a layman when it comes to physics and cosmology, and have tried finding an answer to this that I can understand, with no luck. As I understand it, the solar system evolved from a ...
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74 votes
5 answers
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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, ...
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52 votes
7 answers
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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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23 votes
5 answers
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Why can the entropy of an isolated system increase?

From the second law of thermodynamics: The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems always evolve toward ...
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49 votes
9 answers
7k views

Is a spontaneous decrease in entropy *impossible* or just extremely unlikely?

I was reading this article from Ethan Siegel and I got some doubts about a sentence about entropy, specifically when Ethan explains the irreversibility of the conditions of the hot-and-cold room, as ...
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8 votes
6 answers
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Is amount of entropy subjective?

From all sources I have seen it follows that the proof you can't decrease the amount of entropy in the Universe is given only statistically - the order is just one of the many ways how things can be (...
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10 votes
3 answers
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Do magnets lose their magnetism?

I recently bought some buckyballs, considered to be the world's best selling desk toy. Essentially, they are little, spherical magnets that can form interesting shapes when a bunch of them are used ...
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43 votes
7 answers
7k 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 ...
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27 votes
6 answers
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Is gravity an entropic force after all?

Recently, there was a rapid communication published in Phys.Rev.D (PRD 83, 021502), titled "Gravity is not an entropic force", that claimed that an experiment performed in 2002 with ultra cold ...
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28 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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17 votes
2 answers
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The statistical nature of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

Ok, so entropy increases... This is supposed to be an absolute statement about entropy. But then someone imagines a box with a 10 particle gas, and finds that every now and then all particles are in ...
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29 votes
4 answers
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Is there a way to split a black hole?

Classically, black holes can merge, becoming a single black hole with an horizon area greater than the sum of both merged components. Is it thermodynamically / statistically possible to split a black ...
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97 votes
3 answers
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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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54 votes
4 answers
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Maximum theoretical data density

Our ability to store data on or in physical media continues to grow, with the maximum amount a data you can store in a given volume increasing exponentially from year to year. Storage devices continue ...
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22 votes
13 answers
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Why is the second law of thermodynamics not symmetric with respect to time reversal?

The question might have some misconceptions/ sloppy intuition sorry if that's the case (I'm not a physicist). I seem to have the intuition that given a system of $N$ charged particles in 3D space ...
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12 votes
4 answers
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Entropy as an arrow of time

From what I understand, entropy is a concept defined by the experimentalist due to his ignorance of the exact microstate of a system. To say the number of accessible microstates $W$ of the universe is ...
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16 votes
5 answers
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Is entropy of all systems zero at absolute zero?

Is the entropy of every system zero at the absolute zero? Or is it taken to be zero at the absolute zero? Are there systems that doesn't reach zero entropy even till absolute zero?
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15 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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What is the entropy of the universe today?

What's the entropy of the universe today? How does one go about calculating this? I've heard the statement that black holes account for the bulk of the entropy in the universe today, but don't know ...
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4 votes
3 answers
441 views

Reference for statistical mechanics from information theoretic view

I am interested in knowing if some one here knows book/notes for statistical mechanics from the information theoretic viewpoint. Additional Request from user83014 "Jaynes wrote a paper called ...
42 votes
5 answers
7k 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 ...
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24 votes
4 answers
29k 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. http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/...
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17 votes
2 answers
874 views

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 ...
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18 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
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10 votes
11 answers
2k views

Where does the irreversiblity came from if all the fundamental interaction are reversible? [duplicate]

There isn't too much to explain: We know that all fundamental forces are reversible then where does the irreversibility come from? Edit: The following is edit based on comments: Consider a block of ...
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7 votes
2 answers
1k views

Difference between irreversibility and entropy?

Cedric Villani recently wrote an article on Landau damping in collisionless plasmas, where at least one topic discussed confused me. Besides discussing the issue of how a process can be ...
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3 votes
1 answer
254 views

Collision Term in the Classical Boltzmann Transport Equation

I cannot get over the feeling that in the classical derivation of the collision term of Boltzmann's transport equation molecules that are already knocked out of a $(\textbf r, \textbf v)$ space volume ...
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57 votes
8 answers
6k views

How do different definitions of entropy connect with each other?

In many places over the Internet, I have tried to understand entropy. Many definitions are presented, among which I can formulate three (please correct me if any definition is wrong): Entropy = ...
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29 votes
4 answers
6k 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 ?
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18 votes
4 answers
6k 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 ...
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8 votes
2 answers
4k views

Clear up confusion about the meaning of entropy

So I though, and was told, that entropy is the amount of disorder in a system. Specifically the example of heat flow and it flows to maximize entropy. To me this seemed odd. This seemed more ordered ...
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11 votes
3 answers
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Maxwell's Demon Constant (Information-Energy equivalence)

New Scientist article: Summon a 'demon' to turn information into energy The speed of light c converts between space and time and also appears in $E=mc^2$. Maxwell's Demon can turn information ...
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9 votes
2 answers
930 views

Is this derivation of Black Hole entropy viable?

This question is motivated by this one. Suppose $l$ is the minimum measurable unit of length. What is entropy of a spinless particle contained in this interval? We know that entropy of a two-level ...
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5 votes
5 answers
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Why does the minimum energy principle work?

The principle of minimum energy states that in a thermodynamic system the equilibrium state corresponds to the minimum energy state among a set of states of constant entropy. I believe I understand ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Is quantum uncertainty principle related to thermodynamics?

Would like to ask a question, but first i would like to say Hello Everybody in a way that plays the system, since some geniouses decided that one should not be able to say hello in a question. The ...
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2 votes
1 answer
220 views

How does Fermi jump to this conclusion in Clausius inequality?

In his $Thermodynamics$, Fermi proves beautifully the following (rephrased): For a system undergoing a cyclic process, $$\oint {\delta Q\over T}\leq 0,$$ and for a reversible cyclic process, it is ...
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8 votes
1 answer
588 views

Immediately after the Big Bang, was the universe in a state of extremely low or extremely high entropy?

Phase space theory suggests that the largest course-graining region, $p$, in a phase space, $P$, is the point in the phase space with the highest entropy. As such, it is in thermal equilibrium with ...
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7 votes
2 answers
5k views

Gibbs Paradox - why should the change in entropy be zero?

The Gibbs paradox deals with the fact that for an ideal gas with $N$ molecules in a volume $V$ seperated by a diaphragm into two subvolumes $V_1,V_2$ with $N_1,N_2$ particles in each subvolume, ...
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  • 2,555
3 votes
3 answers
900 views

What is the relation between linear purity and von Neumann entropy of a state?

Given a density matrix $\rho$, its linear purity is $\mathrm{Tr} \rho^2$, its von Neumann entropy is $-\mathrm{Tr} \rho \log \rho$. Knowing one how do I calculate the other? Edit: My thought is ...
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  • 417
54 votes
2 answers
5k views

Does entropy depend on the observer?

Entropy as it is explained on this site is a Lorentz invariant. But, we can define it as a measure of information hidden from an observer in a physical system. In that sense, is entropy a relative ...
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