A Potential Quantum Exception To The Second Law Of Thermodynamics


If you want something to be mad at for your hard luck in physics, there’s no better contender than the second law of thermodynamics. Things breaking down, aging, and even death is dependent on that physical law, which defines that the entropy of the universe tends to increase.


Physicists from the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) looked at the second law in the quantum world and were able to reformulate a significant hypothesis according to the rules of quantum mechanics. In doing so, they found that the hypothesis allowed for a quantum violation of the second law.


The scientists worked on a branch of science known as quantum information, which takes information theory – math applied to communication – to the quantum level. Information and entropy show remarkably parallel formulas and researchers working in either field have been borrowing greatly from each other.


One of these formulae is the H-theorem, which determines that it is possible to see an irreversible increase in entropy from a reversible procedure. To put it simply, if you open your front door, ultimately the air in your home will be at the same temperature as the air outside. The only way to recreate a change in temperature is to spend energy in doing so.


Researchers were able to formulate a quantum information theory of entropy and looked at what would occur if it was applied to solids or liquids.


"This allowed us to formulate the quantum H-theorem as it linked to things that could be physically observed," said co-author Ivan Sadovskyy from ANL in a report. "It creates a connection between well-documented quantum physics processes and the theoretical quantum networks that make up quantum information theory."


The study is published in Scientific Reports, and it shows that the H-theorem might be violated under certain conditions.


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Scientific Reports, Popular Mechanics

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