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Maxwell's Demon

Posted by Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad
Diego Fonstad has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 29 March 2011
in Great Explanations

Teachable Moment: First, let's admit...it's a cool name... so cool, that rock bands chose it to have geek "cred."
But it's also a fascinating thought experiment that challenges a "law" of thermodynamics.

In 1867, James Clerk Maxwell pictured two chambers, A and B, each filled with gas at the same temperature and with a door between them. Theorists later had a demon open the door (without doing any work) to let the fastest-moving molecules pass from A into B, and the slowest from B to A. Over time, the speed of the atoms (and therefore the temperature) increases in B — a violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

References: http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/26939
http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/15-06/st_best
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell%27s_demon

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