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Entropy, Vol. 20, Pages 466: The Gibbs Paradox and Particle Individuality

Entropy, Vol. 20, Pages 466: The Gibbs Paradox and Particle Individuality

Entropy doi: 10.3390/e20060466

Authors: Dennis Dieks

A consensus seems to have developed that the Gibbs paradox in classical thermodynamics (the discontinuous drop in the entropy of mixing when the mixed gases become equal to each other) is unmysterious: in any actual situation, two gases can be separated or not, and the associated harmless discontinuity from “yes” to “no” is responsible for the discontinuity. By contrast, the Gibbs paradox in statistical physics continues to attract attention. Here, the problem is that standard calculations in statistical mechanics predict a non-vanishing value of the entropy of mixing even when two gases of the same kind are mixed, in conflict with thermodynamic predictions. This version of the Gibbs paradox is often seen as a sign that there is something fundamentally wrong with either the traditional expression S=klnW or with the way W is calculated. It is the aim of this article to review the situation from the orthodox (as opposed to information theoretic) standpoint. We demonstrate how the standard formalism is not only fully capable of dealing with the paradox, but also provides an intuitively clear picture of the relevant physical mechanisms. In particular, we pay attention to the explanatory relevance of the existence of particle trajectories in the classical context. We also discuss how the paradox survives the transition to quantum mechanics, in spite of the symmetrization postulates.

Authors:   Dieks, Dennis
Journal:   Entropy
Volume:   20
edition:   6
Year:   2018
Pages:   466
DOI:   10.3390/e20060466
Publication date:   15-Jun-2018
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