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Open AccessArticle

The Second Law of Thermodynamics as a Force Law

Biophysics, Ruhr-University Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany
Entropy 2018, 20(4), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/e20040234
Received: 8 February 2018 / Revised: 22 March 2018 / Accepted: 27 March 2018 / Published: 28 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Statistical Physics)
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Abstract

The second law of thermodynamics states the increase of entropy, Δ S > 0 , for real processes from state A to state B at constant energy from chemistry over biological life and engines to cosmic events. The connection of entropy to information, phase-space, and heat is helpful but does not immediately convince observers of the validity and basis of the second law. This gave grounds for finding a rigorous, but more easily acceptable reformulation. Here, we show using statistical mechanics that this principle is equivalent to a force law f > 0 in systems where mass centers and forces can be identified. The sign of this net force--the average mean force along a path from A to B--determines the direction of the process. The force law applies to a wide range of processes from machines to chemical reactions. The explanation of irreversibility by a driving force appears more plausible than the traditional formulation as it emphasizes the cause instead of the effect of motions. View Full-Text
Keywords: statistical mechanics; irreversibility; arrow of time; chemical dynamics statistical mechanics; irreversibility; arrow of time; chemical dynamics
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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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Schlitter, J. The Second Law of Thermodynamics as a Force Law. Entropy 2018, 20, 234.

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