Entanglement breaking the second law of thermodynamics

The quantum world is really unexpected. Now, scientists found more evidence that a law of physics can be violated in the subatomic domain.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics says, roughly, that you can not get something from nothing. Since there is no free energy, for example, can not create a perpetual motion machine, despite some attempts at least curious have already been tested.

Another aspect of that law is the fact that energy always try to counteract. If you have a pot with hot water and pour over it a little cold water, you end up with a warm liquid. If you want to cool or heat the water, you will need an external power source.

James Maxwell and his mental exercise

Everything was perfect until Scotsman James Maxwell suggested an exercise that confuse the mind of many people in 1867: Suppose you have a container of warm water. The water molecules that have become agitated at different speeds, and the “hottest” move quickly, while the “cold” are moving slowly. Nevertheless, the average temperature of water is warm.

Then Maxwell suggested to split this container into two halves, leaving only a tiny door, the size of a molecule of water, open between them. Build the door so fast the molecules are attracted to her and to accumulate in one half of the container and, where a slow molecule get close to the door, just past the other side.

Thus, after some time, the door would have ordered molecules in the fast and slow, ie, the warm water have become hot and cold water without the use of an extra source of energy. The Second Law of Thermodynamics ends up being apparently raped.

Breaking the Second Law in practice

The Maxwell’s idea is interesting, but is merely a mental exercise. However, in 2010, scientists showed that it is possible to make a piece of plastic move with the random motion of air molecules, with a door similar to that proposed by Maxwell in his exercise.

The piece of plastic is placed on top of a small ladder and suddenly begins to be pushed up. Whenever he does this, one electric door is closed below it. The energy used on this port is isolated from the rest of the system to make sure it does not interfere in the experiment. Over time, the plastic arrives at the top of the ladder without external energy has been applied to it.

Transforming information into energy

After much study these cases, physicists have concluded that these experiments rely on a lot of very refined information about the system in which they are conducted. In Maxwell’s thought experiment, it is necessary to know the speed of the molecules that move and in the practical experiment of 2010, it is always necessary to monitor the position of the piece of plastic.

All these measurements depend on energy which in turn tries to counterbalance to the “free” energy that is outside the system. In other words, what happens is the transformation of information into energy: information about the position of the piece of plastic ends up being converted into energy that pushes up. That is, the second law of thermodynamics remains intact after all.

The crazy world of quantum

Now, scientists at Kyoto University and Tokyo, both in Japan have found that quantum mechanics brings some extra complications to these experiments and that desssa time, the Second Law of Thermodynamics seems to be, in fact, violated.

To this they add to the exercise of a concept known as Maxwell quantum entanglement. When two quantum particles are entangled, they behave as if they were one, even if they are separated by an entire universe away. Thus, it is possible to measure only one of them and obtaining information on another. And, as we saw above, information in this context is energy.

Therefore, in the above case, one could use for measuring energy of the half molecules and information about all of them. In other words, it would be possible to divide the container between molecules “hot” and “cold” using only half the energy required in the classical model.

 But the great achievement of the authors was to find that the Second Law of Thermodynamics also depends on quantum effects, and now the team working on a way to expand it so that this disclosure will also be addressed.

According to the site Technology Review , this research will have important implications in all kinds of phenomena, from black holes and astrobiology to nanomachines and quantum chemistry.


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Ankur Pandey
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