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Maxwell's Demon

Maxwell's Demon

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Published by: akuril on Sep 09, 2010
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[edit][edit]To help understand the meaning of Maxwell'sdemon withinthermodynamics, see
philosophyof thermal and statistical physics
Lord Kelvin, the first to use the word "demon"for Maxwell's concept, implied that he intended themediating, rather than malevolent, meaning of theword.Schematic figure of Maxwell's demon
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected fromMaxwell's Demon)
Maxwell's demon
is athought experimentcreated by theScottish physicist James Clerk Maxwellto "show that the2nd Lawof  Thermodynamicshas only a statistical certainty." Thethought experimentdemonstratesMaxwell's point by describing how to violate the2nd Law. In the experiment an imaginary container is divided into two parts by an insulated wall, with a door that canbe opened and closed by what came to be called "Maxwell's Demon". The hypothetical demon is able to let only the "hot"molecules of gas flow through to a favored side of the chamber, causing that side to appear to spontaneously heat up while theother side cools down.
1 Origin and history of the idea2 Original thought experiment3 Criticism and development4 Applications5 Experimental work6 Adams and the demonas historicalmetaphor  7 In popular culture8 See also9 Notes10 References11 External links
Or igin and history of the idea
When Maxwell introduced the concept,in his letters to colleagues, and in his book,
Theory of Heat 
, he describedit as a "finite being." Thethought experimentfirst appeared in a letter Maxwellwrote toPeter Guthrie Taiton11 December  1867. It appeared again in a letter toJohn William Struttin 1870before it was presented to the public in Maxwell's1871book on thermodynamics titled
William Thompson (Lord Kelvin)was the first to use the word "demon" for Maxwell's concept, in the journal
, in 1874, and implied that he intendedthemediating, rather than malevolent,meaning of the word.
Original thought experiment
The second law of thermodynamics ensures (through statistical probability) thattwo bodies of differenttemperature, when brought into contact with each other and isolated from the rest of the Universe, will evolve to a thermodynamicequilibrium in which both bodies have approximately the same temperature. Thesecond law is also expressed as the assertion that in anisolated system,entropynever decreases.Maxwell conceived a thought experiment as a way of furthering understanding of the second law. He described the experiment as follows:
... if we conceive of a being whose faculties are so sharpened that he can follow every molecule in its course, sucha being, whose attributes are as essentially finite as our own, would be able to do what is impossible to us. For wehave seen that molecules in a vessel full of air at uniform temperature are moving with velocities by no meansuniform, though the mean velocity of any great number of them, arbitrarily selected, is almost exactly uniform. Nowlet us suppose that such a vessel is divided into two portions, Aand B, by a division in which there is a small hole,and that a being, who can see the individual molecules, opens and closes this hole, so as to allow only the swifter molecules to pass from Ato B, and only the slower molecules to pass from B to A. He will thus, without expenditureof work, raise the temperature of B and lower that of A, in contradiction to the second law of thermodynamics....
In other words, Maxwell imagines one container divided into two parts,
. Both parts are filled with the samegasat equaltemperatures and placed next to each other. Observing themoleculeson both sides, an imaginarydemonguards a trapdoor between thetwo parts. When a faster-than-average molecule from
flies towardsthe trapdoor, the demon opens it, and the molecule will fly from
. The averagespeedof the molecules in
will have increased whilein
they will have slowed down on average. Since average molecular speed corresponds to temperature, the temperature decreases in
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[edit][edit][edit]and increases in
, contrary to the second law of thermodynamics.
Criticism and development
Several physicists have presented calculations that show that thesecond law of thermodynamicswill not actually be violated, if a more complete analysis is made of the whole system including the demon. The essence of the physical argument is to showby calculation that any demon must "generate" more entropy segregating the molecules than it could ever eliminate by themethod described. That is, it would take more energy to gauge the speed of the molecules and allow them to selectively passthrough the opening between A and B than the amount of energy saved by the difference of temperature caused by this.One of the most famous responses to this question was suggested in 1929 byLeó Szilárdand later byLéon Brillouin. Szilárd pointed out that a real-life Maxwell's demon would need to have some means of measuring molecular speed, and that the act of acquiring information would require an expenditure of energy. Thesecond lawstates that the total entropy of an isolated systemmust increase. Since the demon and the gas are interacting, we must consider the total entropy of the gas and the demoncombined. The expenditure of energy by the demon will cause an increase in the entropy of the demon, which will be larger thanthe lowering of the entropy of the gas. For example, if the demon is checking molecular positions using a flashlight, the flashlightbattery is a low-entropy device, a chemical reaction waiting to happen. As its energy is used up emitting photons (whose entropymust now be counted as well), the battery's chemical reaction will proceed and its entropy will increase, more than offsetting thedecrease in the entropy of the gas.In 1960,Rolf Landauer raised an exception to this argument. He realized that some measuring processes need not increasethermodynamic entropy as long as they werethermodynamically reversible. He suggested these "reversible" measurementscould be used to sort the molecules, violating the Second Law. However, due to the connection between thermodynamic entropyandinformation entropy, this also meant that the recorded measurement must not be erased. In other words, to determine whatside of the gate a molecule must be on, the demon must acquire information about the state of the molecule and either discard itor store it. Discarding it leads to immediate increase in entropy but the demon cannot store it indefinitely: In 1982,Bennettshowed that, however well prepared, eventually the demon will run out of information storage space and must begin to erase theinformation it has previously gathered. Erasing information is a thermodynamically irreversible process that increases the entropyof a system. (Many people run into this problem of running out of storage space on their own computers but fortunately there is asimple solution – deleting some of the unnecessary data. A Maxwellian demon could do the same thing, deleting earlier data.But memory erasure is by definition an irreversible process. Once you’ve deleted the data on a piece of memory, resetting all thebits to 0, it is impossible to reconstruct the original data from this string of 0s. This irreversible process increases entropy by
per bit. Bennett realised that one bit of storage was needed for each Szilard cycle. The entropy increase when these bits areerased offsets the entropy decrease effected by the demon. Thus when we look at the system as a whole entropy has notdecreased, and so the second law is saved.) Although Bennett had reached the same conclusion as Szilard’s 1929 paper, that aMaxwellian demon could not violate the second law because entropy would be created, he had reached it for different reasons,and in science the reasons are just as important as results.However,John Earmanand John Norton have argued that Szilárd and Landauer's explanations of Maxwell's Demon begin byassuming that thesecond law of thermodynamicscannot be violated, thus rendering their proofs that Maxwell's Demon cannotviolate the Second Law circular.
Real-life versions of Maxwellian demons occur, but all such "real demons" have their entropy-lowering effects duly balanced byincrease of entropy elsewhere.Single-atom traps used by particle physicists allow an experimenter to control the state of individual quanta in a way similar toMaxwell's demon.Molecular-sized mechanisms are no longer found only in biology; they are also the subject of the emerging field of nanotechnology. A large-scale, commercially-available pneumatic device, called aRanque-Hilsch vortex tubeseparates hot and cold air. It sortsmolecules by exploiting the conservation of angular momentum: hotter molecules are spun to the outside of the tube while cooler molecules spin in a tighter whirl within the tube. Gas from the two different temperature whirls may be vented on opposite ends of the tube. Although this creates a temperature difference, the energy to do so is supplied by the pressure driving the gas throughthe tube.If hypotheticalmirror matter exists, Zurab Silagadze proposes thatdemons can be envisaged, "which can act like perpetuum mobiles of the second kind: extract heat energy from only one reservoir, use it to do work and be isolated from the rest of ordinary world. Yet the Second Law is not violated because the demons pay their entropy cost in the hidden (mirror) sector of theworld by emitting mirror photons."In 1962 lectures, to illustrate thermodynamics, physicistRichard Feynmananalyzed a putative Maxwell's demon device, a tinypaddlewheelattached to aratchet, showing why it cannot extract energy from molecular motion of a fluid at equilibrium.
Thisbrownian ratchetis a popular teaching tool.
Experimental work
In the 1 February 2007 issue of Nature,David Leigh, a professor at theUniversity of Edinburgh, announced the creation of a nano-device based on this thought experiment. This device is able to drive a chemical system out of equilibrium, but it must bepowered by an external source (lightin this case) and therefore does not violate thermodynamics.Previously, other researchers created a ring-shaped molecule which could be placed on an axle connecting two sites (called Aand B). Particles from either site would bump into the ring and move it from end to end. If a large collection of these devices wereplaced in a system, half of the devices had the ring at site A and half at B at any given moment in time.Leigh made a minor change to the axle so that if a light is shone on the device, the center of the axle will thicken, thusrestricting the motion of the ring. It only keeps the ring from moving, however, if it is at site A. Over time, therefore, the rings will
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[edit][edit][edit][edit]be bumped from site B to site A and get stuck there, creating an imbalance in the system. In his experiments, Leigh was able totake a pot of "billions of these devices" from 50:50 equilibrium to a 70:30 imbalance within a few minutes.
 Adams and the demon as historical metaphor 
HistorianHenry Brooks Adamsin his manuscript
The Rule of Phase Applied to History 
attempted to use Maxwell's demon as ahistoricalmetaphor , though he misunderstood and misapplied the original principle.
Adams interpretedhistoryas a processmoving towards "equilibrium", but he sawmilitaristicnations (he feltGermanypre-eminent in this class) as tending to reverse this process, a Maxwell's Demon of history. Adams made many attempts to respond to the criticism of his formulation from hisscientific colleagues, but the work remained incomplete at Adams' death in 1918. It was only published posthumously.
In popular culture
In literature, Maxwell’s Demon appears inThomas Pynchon'snovels,
The Crying of Lot 49
Gravity's Rainbow 
, and inGeorgeGamow's 
Mr. Tompkins
. Also, it is mentioned in the novel
Homo Faber 
bySwissauthor Max Frisch, as well as in one of the short stories of 
The Cyberiad 
byStanisław Lem: "The Sixth Sally, or How Trurl and Klaupacius Created a Demon of the SecondKind to Defeat the Pirate Pugg". In Greg Egan's hard science fiction novel
Permutation City 
, Maxwell's Demon is the name of aprogram used by the character Maria to keep track of individual "molecules" in the cellular automaton known as the Autoverse.Finally, Maxwell's Demon appears, and fills his typical role, in the climax of the book
Master of the Five Magics
byLyndonHardy. Maxwell's Demon was also mentioned in Christopher Stasheff's books from the series A Wizard in Rhyme, wherein he let Maxwell's Demon (Max for short) help out the main character. In Arkady and Boris Strugatsky'sbook
Monday Begins onSaturday 
two of Maxwell's demons work as doormen in the Institute for Magic and Thaumaturgy.Christopher Stasheff'sbookHer  Majesty's Wizardcontains a character referred to as Maxwell's Demon that assist the main character throughout the novel.In the way of short stories, an homage to Maxwell has been written byIsaac AsimovandLarry Niven.
citation neede
Additionally,Larry Niven's Warlock inThe Magic Goes Awayuses such a demon to cool his home in a vignette titled "Unfinished Story #1" aspublished in
Playgrounds of the Mind 
(and, earlier, in
 All the Myriad Ways
). The Demon also contributes to the thesis of KenKesey'scollection of stories,
The Demon Box 
. In the story "A Feast of Demons" by William Morrison (pseudonym for JosephSamachson), a scientist creates Maxwell's Demons to change the temperature of items, the purity of ores, and eventually evenreverse or accelerate the aging process in people—only to have the Demons escape and wreak havoc on civilization. Animplementation of a scientifically plausible nanotech version of Maxwell's demon appears inPaul Di Filippo'sshort story
 Any Major Dude
, the use of which gives a country in the story the name "Maxwell's Land" and its inhabitants "demons."In music and film, Maxwell Demon was the name of Brian Eno'sfirst band, which was the inspiration for the name of a fictionalcharacter in the movie
Velvet Goldmine,
Maxwell's Demon
is the name of a 1968 film by the American experimentalfilmmaker Hollis Frampton. Maxwell's Demon is mentioned in the song 'A Metaphysical Drama', by Vintersorg and also is thename of aBrooklyn-based indie rock band, as well as that of aLondon alt-pop band. See also the lyrics to "Isaac's Law" by The Loud Family.The computer gameMaxwell's ManiaconMicrosoft Entertainment Packis loosely based on Maxwell's Demon. The theory is also referenced in 2003 video-gameMax Payne 2, in the form of an in-game cartoon show the chief villain of whichis named 'Maxwell's Demon,' a creature said to have been created by 'Doctor Entropy' and with the goal of turning the world intoa 'dreaded closed system'. Also, in the 2007 computer gameNeverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer the player encounters apuzzle in which he controls a trapdoor between two cages containing a mixed population of elemental creatures of fire and ice(mephits, which roughly resemble the classical image of the "demon"), the point of the puzzle being to separate them despitetheir tendency to mingle, in essence putting the player in the role of Maxwell's Demon.Citing Maxwell's Demon, math intellectuals philosophized about the actions of an escaped criminal in the American televisionprogramNumb3rs. The episode, titled "Arrow of Time", was episode 11 of season 5, and originally aired on January 9, 2009.
 AMac Hallcomic depicts the character Matt hallucinating a demon named Maxwell who lives in the air conditioner replacing hotair molecules with cool ones. He claims to refute thesecond law of thermodynamics.
James K. Galbraith's"The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too",describes the market as "a disembodied decision maker - a Maxwell's Demon - that, somehow, and without effort, balances andreflects the preferences of everyone participating in economic decisions... It can be these things precisely because it is nothingat all." (Galbraith 19-20) .
UK drum and bass producer John Btitled a song on his Visions album "Maxwell's Demon".
See also
CatalysisDispersionEvaporationGibbs paradoxHall effectJoule-Thomson effectLaplace's demonLaws of thermodynamicsMass spectrometryPhotoelectric effectQuantum tunnellingThermionic emission
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