Journal Article

Gravity, Entropy, and Cosmology: in Search of Clarity

David Wallace

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 61, issue 3, pages 513-540
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online April 2010 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Gravity, Entropy, and Cosmology: in Search of Clarity

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I discuss the statistical mechanics of gravitating systems and in particular its cosmological implications, and argue that many conventional views on this subject in the foundations of statistical mechanics embody significant confusion; I attempt to provide a clearer and more accurate account. In particular, I observe that (i) the role of gravity in entropy calculations must be distinguished from the entropy of gravity, that (ii) although gravitational collapse is entropy-increasing, this is not usually because the collapsing matter itself increases in entropy, and that (iii) the Second Law of thermodynamics does not owe its validity to the statistical mechanics of gravitational collapse.


Three Principles to Set Aside

The Irrelevance of ‘Gravitational Entropy’

Entropy of Uniform Self-Gravitating Gas Clouds

The Gravothermal Catastrophe

Black Hole Entropy as a Special Case

Entropy Increase from Gravitation and Nuclear Fusion

Thermodynamics in an Expanding Universe

The Real Significance of Gravity in Thermodynamics


Journal Article.  12150 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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