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Published November 20, 2002 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

The Adiabatic Piston and the Second Law of Thermodynamics


A detailed analysis of the adiabatic-piston problem reveals peculiar dynamical features that challenge the general belief that isolated systems necessarily reach a static equilibrium state. In particular, the fact that the piston behaves like a perpetuum mobile, i.e., it never stops but keeps wandering, undergoing sizable oscillations, around the position corresponding to maximum entropy, has remarkable implications on the entropy variations of the system and on the validity of the second law when dealing with systems of mesoscopic dimensions.

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© 2002 American Institute of Physics. Issue Date: 20 November 2002.

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