Two distinct puzzles, which are both known as Gibbs’ paradox, have interested physicists since they were first identified in the 1870s. They each have significance for the foundations of statistical mechanics and have led to lively discussions with a wide variety of suggested resolutions. Most proposed resolutions had involved quantum mechanics, although the original puzzles were entirely classical and were posed before quantum mechanics was invented. In this paper, I show that contrary to what has often been suggested, quantum mechanics is not essential for resolving the paradoxes. I present a resolution of the paradoxes that does not depend on quantum mechanics and includes the case of colloidal solutions, for which quantum mechanics is not relevant.
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