Tuesday, 31 January 2012
The Second Law of Thermodynamics in Quantum Field Theory
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Pittsburgh
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: The Second Law of Thermodynamics is typically justified in classical or semiclassical statistical mechanics in terms of the probabilities of particles being in various states. The theory that everyone believes to be the right theory of quantum mechanics, however, is quantum field theory. It turns out to be nontrivial to justify the Second Law using only quantum field theory. In the past year I and coworkers have done some new calculations which go a long way toward doing this. In this talk I will not go into the mathematical details, but instead will focus on some of the new insights which we have obtained from doing these calculations, on issues such as whether we should view the Second Law as a statement of probability, the role of dephasing (loss of phase information) in the Second Law, whether Bose condensates can violate the Second Law for short periods of time, and why we never see macroscopic sound and light waves with a definite number of particles. I will also present some conjectures regarding the measurement process in quantum mechanics.