A new approach to the approach to equilibrium

In Yemima Ben-Menahem & Meir Hemmo (eds.), Probability in Physics. The Frontiers Collection. Springer. pp. 99-114 (2012)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Consider a gas confined to the left half of a container. Then remove the wall separating the two parts. The gas will start spreading and soon be evenly distributed over the entire available space. The gas has approached equilibrium. Why does the gas behave in this way? The canonical answer to this question, originally proffered by Boltzmann, is that the system has to be ergodic for the approach to equilibrium to take place. This answer has been criticised on different grounds and is now widely regarded as flawed. In this paper we argue that these criticisms have dismissed Boltzmann’s answer too quickly and that something almost like Boltzmann’s answer is true: the approach to equilibrium takes place if the system is epsilon-ergodic, i.e. ergodic on the entire accessible phase space except for a small region of measure epsilon. We introduce epsilon-ergodicity and argue that relevant systems in statistical mechanics are indeed espsilon-ergodic.
Keywords
PhilPapers/Archive ID
FRIANA-2
Upload history
Archival date: 2017-12-13
View other versions
Added to PP index
2013-12-10

Total views
97 ( #46,127 of 64,255 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #56,666 of 64,255 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.