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Explaining thermodynamic-like behaviour in terms of epsilon-ergodicity

By Roman Frigg and Charlotte Werndl


Why do gases reach equilibrium when left to themselves? The canonical answer, originally proffered by Boltzmann, is that the systems have to be ergodic. This answer is now widely regarded as flawed. We argue that some of the main objections in particular arguments based on the Kolmogorov-Arnold-Moser theorem and the Markus-Meyer theorem are beside the point. We then argue that something close to Boltzmann’s proposal is true: gases behave thermodynamic-like if they are epsilon-ergodic, that is, ergodic on the phase space except for a small region of measure epsilon. This answer is promising because there is evidence that relevant systems are epsilon-ergodic

Topics: QC Physics
Publisher: UThe University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Philosophy of Science
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1086/661567
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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