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Entropy 2017, 19(6), 240;

Maxwell’s Demon—A Historical Review

Department of Physics, University of Puget Sound, 1500 N Warner St, Tacoma, WA 98416, USA
Academic Editor: Kevin H. Knuth
Received: 20 April 2017 / Revised: 12 May 2017 / Accepted: 19 May 2017 / Published: 23 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Limits to the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Experiment and Theory)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1018 KB, uploaded 23 May 2017]   |  


For more than 140 years Maxwell’s demon has intrigued, enlightened, mystified, frustrated, and challenged physicists in unique and interesting ways. Maxwell’s original conception was brilliant and insightful, but over the years numerous different versions of Maxwell’s demon have been presented. Most versions have been answered with reasonable physical arguments, with each of these answers (apparently) keeping the second law of thermodynamics intact. Though the laws of physics did not change in this process of questioning and answering, we have learned a lot along the way about statistical mechanics and thermodynamics. This paper will review a selected history and discuss some of the interesting historical characters who have participated. View Full-Text
Keywords: Maxwell’s demon; entropy; Maxwell; second law of thermodynamics; Szilard; information; erasure; Landauer Maxwell’s demon; entropy; Maxwell; second law of thermodynamics; Szilard; information; erasure; Landauer

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Rex, A. Maxwell’s Demon—A Historical Review. Entropy 2017, 19, 240.

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