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Can the second law be compatible with time-reversal-invariant dynamics?

Henderson, Leah (2014) Can the second law be compatible with time-reversal-invariant dynamics? [Preprint]


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It is commonly thought that there is some tension between the second law of thermodynam-
ics and the time reversal invariance of the microdynamics. Recently, however, Jos Uffink has
argued that the origin of time reversal non-invariance in thermodynamics is not in the second
law. Uffink argues that the relationship between the second law and time reversal invariance
depends on the formulation of the second law. He claims that a recent version of the second
law due to Lieb and Yngvason allows irreversible processes, yet is time reversal invariant.
In this paper, I attempt to spell out the traditional argument for incompatibility between the
second law and time reversal invariant dynamics, making the assumptions on which it depends
explicit. I argue that this argument does not vary with different versions of the second law and
can be formulated for Lieb and Yngvason's version as for other versions. Uffink's argument
regarding time reversal invariance in Lieb and Yngvason is based on a certain symmetry of some
of their axioms. However, these axioms do not constitute the full expression of the second law
in their system.

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Item Type: Preprint
Additional Information: Accepted for publication in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
Keywords: second law of thermodynamics, time-reversal-invariance, Uffink, Lieb and Yngvason, reversibility
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics
Depositing User: Dr Leah Henderson
Date Deposited: 31 May 2014 04:38
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2014 14:45
Item ID: 10698
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics
Date: 9 April 2014

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