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Is There a Unique Physical Entropy? Micro versus Macro

Dieks, Dennis (2012) Is There a Unique Physical Entropy? Micro versus Macro. [Preprint]

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Entropy in thermodynamics is an extensive quantity, whereas standard methods in statistical mechanics give rise to a non-extensive expression for the entropy. This discrepancy is often seen as a sign that basic formulas of statistical mechanics should be revised, either on the basis of quantum mechanics or on the basis of general and fundamental considerations about the (in)distinguishability of particles. In this article we argue against this response. We show that both the extensive thermodynamic and the non-extensive statistical entropy are perfectly alright within
their own fields of application. Changes in the statistical formulas that remove the discrepancy must be seen as motivated by pragmatic reasons (conventions) rather than as justified by basic arguments about particle statistics.

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Item Type: Preprint
Dieks, Dennis
Additional Information: To appear in: New Challenges to the Philosophy of Science (PSE Volume 4), Springer, 2012
Keywords: entropy, Gibbs paradox, (in)distinguishability
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Dennis Dieks
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2012 19:59
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2012 19:59
Item ID: 9309

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