Book ID: CBB001500356

The Road to Maxwell's Demon, Conceptual Foundations of Statistical Mechanics (2012)


Time asymmetric phenomena are successfully predicted by statistical mechanics. Yet the foundations of this theory are surprisingly shaky. Its explanation for the ease of mixing milk with coffee is incomplete, and even implies that un-mixing them should be just as easy. In this book the authors develop a new conceptual foundation for statistical mechanics that addresses this difficulty. Explaining the notions of macrostates, probability, measurement, memory, and the arrow of time in statistical mechanics, they reach the startling conclusion that Maxwell's Demon, the famous perpetuum mobile, is consistent with the fundamental physical laws. Mathematical treatments are avoided where possible, and instead the authors use novel diagrams to illustrate the text. This is a fascinating book for graduate students and researchers interested in the foundations and philosophy of physics.

Reviewed By

Essay Review Hagar, Amit (2014) Demons in Physics. Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science (pp. 475-484). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Diaconis, Persi
Marmottini, Donatella
Charalampous, Charis
Stamhuis, Ida H.
Skyrms, Brian
Seising, Rudolf
Journal Electronique d'Histoire des Probabilités et de la Statistique
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Scientia Canadensis: Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Science in Context
Physics in Perspective
Pavia University Press
Yale University Press
Princeton University Press
F. Steiner
Probability and statistics
Statistical mechanics
Discipline formation
Philosophy of science
Maxwell, James Clerk
Grassmann, Hermann Günther
Fisher, Ronald Aylmer
Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro
Poincaré, Jules Henri
Pearson, Karl
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
18th century
20th century, early
17th century
Great Britain
Société de Statistique de Paris
Statistical Society of London
Royal Statistical Society
École Polytechnique, Paris

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