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Entropy 2017, 19(3), 106; doi:10.3390/e19030106

On Quantum Collapse as a Basis for the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740, USA
Academic Editors: Leonid M. Martyushev, Robert Niven and Kevin H. Knuth
Received: 24 December 2016 / Revised: 25 February 2017 / Accepted: 7 March 2017 / Published: 9 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entropy, Time and Evolution)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [233 KB, uploaded 9 March 2017]

Abstract

It was first suggested by David Z. Albert that the existence of a real, physical non-unitary process (i.e., “collapse”) at the quantum level would yield a complete explanation for the Second Law of Thermodynamics (i.e., the increase in entropy over time). The contribution of such a process would be to provide a physical basis for the ontological indeterminacy needed to derive the irreversible Second Law against a backdrop of otherwise reversible, deterministic physical laws. An alternative understanding of the source of this possible quantum “collapse” or non-unitarity is presented herein, in terms of the Transactional Interpretation (TI). The present model provides a specific physical justification for Boltzmann’s often-criticized assumption of molecular randomness (Stosszahlansatz), thereby changing its status from an ad hoc postulate to a theoretically grounded result, without requiring any change to the basic quantum theory. In addition, it is argued that TI provides an elegant way of reconciling, via indeterministic collapse, the time-reversible Liouville evolution with the time-irreversible evolution inherent in so-called “master equations” that specify the changes in occupation of the various possible states in terms of the transition rates between them. The present model is contrasted with the Ghirardi–Rimini–Weber (GRW) “spontaneous collapse” theory previously suggested for this purpose by Albert. View Full-Text
Keywords: Second Law of Thermodynamics; irreversibility; entropy; H-Theorem; transactional interpretation; wave function collapse; non-unitarity Second Law of Thermodynamics; irreversibility; entropy; H-Theorem; transactional interpretation; wave function collapse; non-unitarity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Kastner, R.E. On Quantum Collapse as a Basis for the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Entropy 2017, 19, 106.

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