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Re: 2nd Law of Thermodynamics



In a message dated 95-11-13 19:31:00 EST, ArtSippo@aol.com writes:

>Sorry, George.  I totally disagree.  No quantum process to my knowledge ever
>violates the 2nd Law.  If that were the case, most of nuclear physics as we
>know it wouldn't exist and it would be just as likely for hydrogen atoms to
>fuse as for helium atoms to fission.  In some quantum processes, entropy
>remains unchanged such as the electrons in a stable shell around an atom,
but
>2LT states that entropy never DECREASES so this is not a violation.  Even
>spontaneous pair production usually results in immediate annihilation
leaving
>entropy unchanged.  Everything obeys 2LT as far as we know.

You're right for the most part. What I should have said was that quantum
processes are largely _independent_ of the 2nd law. Spontaneous fission of
helium nuclei, etc., is prevented by the law of conservation of mass-energy,
not by the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The 2nd law is a consequence of the
statistics of large numbers, which implies macroscopic objects. Spontaneous
in vacuo pair-creation even violates the conservation of mass-energy (let
alone 2LT), but for such a brief interval (though not "immediate") that its
effect is swamped by uncertainty. Given a system consisting of a single
particle or a small collection of particles, there is a decent chance 2LT may
be violated for a short interval within the system, just as there remains a
minute but non-zero chance that a pot of water will start to boil of its own
thermal energy on the stove.

Given all of eternity, the pot of water on the stove will spontaneously boil
not just once but an infinite number of times; likewise, given all of
eternity, a universe could spontaneously come into existence all by itself as
a violation of 2LT, not just once but an infinite number of times.