Chapter

Ends and Odds

Michael Munowitz

in Knowing

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195167375
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199787104 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167375.003.0010
Ends and Odds

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The microscopic laws of motion offer no sense of time, but in the world at large, time marches on. Macroscopic systems progress irreversibly from one state of thermodynamic equilibrium to another, driven forward by the statistical imperatives of large numbers and overwhelming odds. Energy becomes increasingly dispersed and harder to extract, even as the total amount remains constant. The entropy of the universe grows and grows.

Keywords: energy; entropy; equilibrium; irreversibility; statistical mechanics; thermodynamics

Chapter.  7986 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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