Chapter

Prologue

Phil Attard

in Non-equilibrium Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199662760
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745287 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199662760.003.0001
Prologue

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The prologue begins with Clausius’ Second Law of Thermodynamics and Boltzmann’s identification of entropy with the number of molecular configurations. They underscore the need for a fundamental basis for non-equilibrium theory, which is provided by the entropy of transitions, the so-called second entropy. This is shown to be maximal in the optimum non-equilibrium state. The virtues of this approach, such as clarity, rigour, and generality, its physical basis, and its close analogy with equilibrium theory, are outlined. The nature of probability and randomness in the physical universe, the relationship between entropy and probability, and the physical origin of the laws of probability are set out. The reservoir formalism of equilibrium statistical mechanics and its role in non-equilibrium steady-state systems are briefly reviewed.

Keywords: entropy; probability; Second Law; non-equilibrium; randomness; transition

Chapter.  14989 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Condensed Matter Physics

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