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In the philosophy of thermal and statistical physics, Maxwell's demon is a thought experiment created by the physicist James Clerk Maxwell in which he suggested how the second law of thermodynamics might hypothetically be violated. In the thought experiment, a demon controls a small door between two chambers of gas. As individual gas molecules approach the door, the demon quickly opens and shuts the door so that fast molecules pass into the other chamber, while slow molecules remain in the first chamber. Because faster molecules are hotter, the demon's behavior causes one chamber to warm up as the other cools, thus decreasing entropy and violating the second law of thermodynamics.
Several physicists have presented calculations that show that the second law of thermodynamics will not actually be violated, if a more complete analysis is made of the whole system including the demon. The essence of the physical argument is to show, by calculation, that any demon must "generate" more entropy segregating the molecules than it could ever eliminate by the method described. That is, it would take more thermodynamic work to gauge the speed of the molecules and selectively allow them to pass through the opening between A and B than the amount of energy gained by the difference of temperature caused by this.
originally posted by: CaptainBeno
Great, you both "had to go there" didn't you?
To say say my head is hurting is an understatement.
Love it. thanks! S&F
I don't see what a conscious human looking at the results has to do with it. In the Copenhagen interpretation, the observer, let's say a video camera, can be enough to collapse the wave function. No human has to actually watch the video tape for that to happen. I don't buy your distinction, and I don't think Sean Carroll would either, here's his take on observers:
originally posted by: neoholographic
The universe has to have knowledge of itself. This is the very definition of an observer. An observer takes in information about a system and has knowledge about that system when they interact. So an observer can be an electron, measuring apparatus, dog or conscious human. Here's Max Tegmark talking about the Physics of the observer.
So you have what I call weak observers and strong observers. A weak observer would be a measuring apparatus. It extracts information about a system but this knowledge remains stuck with the measuring apparatus unless a conscious human looks at the results or another machine reads the results. With another machine you just get a Von Neumann chain.
If there wasn't then we would need Von Neumann brains LOL!