The laws of physics are absolute - in theory. And with an exception. So absolute doesn't always mean what we think it means.
How heat and temperature related to energy, the laws of thermodynamics, seem to violate the laws of physics theoretically. But now they theoretically don't.
A paper recently published in EPJ B discussed a theoretical model of the environment's influence on a particle does not violate the third law of thermodynamics, despite appearances to the contrary. These findings are relevant for systems at the micro or nanometer scale that are difficult to decouple from the heat or the quantum effects exerted by their environment.
The authors focused on a model system favored by thermodynamics experts that consists of a free particle strongly coupled to a heat bath, representing the effect of its environment. Studies of such systems typically focus on how much energy is needed to raise their temperature by a certain amount, or so-called specific heat. Previous theoretical predictions suggested that, under certain circumstances, the specific heat can decrease below zero at a temperature of strictly zero (−273.15°C).
This prediction appears to breach the third law of thermodynamics, which states that the specific heat must drop to zero value at strictly zero temperature.
The authors demonstrated that the third law of thermodynamics is not actually violated. In fact, a real particle will always be confined to a finite volume—even if that volume may be extremely large. Therefore, they discovered that previous studies need to be modified in order to account for a spatial confinement of the particle.
The new model demonstrates how the negative specific heat for a truly free particle is related to a dip in the specific heat, which should be observable in the presence of a confinement.
Citation: R. Adamietz, G.-L. Ingold, and U. Weiss (2014), Thermodynamic anomalies in the presence of general linear dissipation: from the free particle to the harmonic oscillator, European Physical Journal B, DOI 10.1140/epjb/e2014-50125-2
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Researchers Created A Laser Bullet To See What It Would Look Like - And Here It Is
- Great Earthquakes Doubled In The Most Recent 10 Year Period - What That Means
- What Americans Fear Most Isn't Ebola Or Terrorism, It's...
- ECFA Workshop: Planning For The High Luminosity LHC
- The Comets Of Beta Pictoris
- Slavery In America: Back In The Headlines
- As The Weather Changes, So Do Beliefs About Climate Change
- "Hi Valerie, thanks for writing.If you look up papers on existential dread, you should find some..."
- "If journal articles like this one would reference the science and the data instead of the politics..."
- "people, the claim that: 1 you do not believe in god, 2 you exist QED atheists exist is fatuous..."
- "I'm sorry Mark, but . . . the argument that the belief in God or gods is falsified the claim that..."
- "I mean terrible states and related issues, and tautological determinism, which is so scary that..."
- National Wildlife Refuge System bans on GMOs and neonics lack transparency, scientific rationale
- Want better sperm? Eat more pesticides
- Beyond universal donors, some people are programed with no blood type at all
- Anti-conventional ag movement spurs Big Ag to look to organic pesticides
- Can people really inherit memories?
- An end to fat shaming? The 50 year DNA mystery of metabolic dysfunction may soon be solved