2017-08-10 12:19:50 UTC
Brian Cox explains the concept of entropy:
Brian Cox explains why time travels in one direction - Wonders of the Universe - BBC Two
Note the implicit analogy between the sand grains and ideal gas molecules - in both cases the introduction of the entropy concept requires that interactions between particles be neglected. This is suggestive. If you define the entropy S as a quantity that obeys the equation dS=dQrev/T, you will find that, so defined, the entropy is a state function FOR AN IDEAL GAS. Clausius was very impressed by this statefunctionness and decided to prove that the entropy (so defined) is a state function for ANY system. So "Entropy is a state function" became a fundamental theorem in thermodynamics. Clausius deduced it from the assumption that any cycle can be disintegrated into small Carnot cycles, and nowadays this deduction remains the only justification of "Entropy is a state function":
"Carnot Cycles: S is a State Function. Any reversible cycle can be thought of as a collection of Carnot cycles - this approximation becomes exact as cycles become infinitesimal. Entropy change around an individual cycle is zero. Sum of entropy changes over all cycles is zero."
"Entropy Changes in Arbitrary Cycles. What if we have a process which occurs in a cycle other than the Carnot cycle, e.g., the cycle depicted in Fig. 3. If entropy is a state function, cyclic integral of dS = 0, no matter what the nature of the cycle. In order to see that this is true, break up the cycle into sub-cycles, each of which is a Carnot cycle, as shown in Fig. 3. If we apply Eq. (7) to each piece, and add the results, we get zero for the sum." http://ronispc.chem.mcgill.ca/ronis/chem213/hnd8.pdf
The assumption on which "Entropy is a state function" is based - that any cycle can be subdivided into small Carnot cycles - is obviously false. A cycle involving the action of conservative forces CANNOT be subdivided into small Carnot cycles.
Conclusion: The belief that the entropy is a state function is totally unjustified. Any time scientists use the term "entropy", they don't know what they are talking about.
"My greatest concern was what to call it. I thought of calling it 'information', but the word was overly used, so I decided to call it 'uncertainty'. When I discussed it with John von Neumann, he had a better idea. Von Neumann told me, 'You should call it entropy, for two reasons: In the first place your uncertainty function has been used in statistical mechanics under that name, so it already has a name. In the second place, and more important, nobody knows what entropy really is, so in a debate you will always have the advantage."
Jos Uffink, Bluff your way in the Second Law of Thermodynamics: "I therefore argue for the view that the second law has nothing to do with the arrow of time. [...] This summary leads to the question whether it is fruitful to see irreversibility or time-asymmetry as the essence of the second law. Is it not more straightforward, in view of the unargued statements of Kelvin, the bold claims of Clausius and the strained attempts of Planck, to give up this idea? I believe that Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa was right in her verdict that the discussion about the arrow of time as expressed in the second law of the thermodynamics is actually a RED HERRING." http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/313/1/engtot.pdf