“Lisa,” Homer said in his sternest voice, “in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics.”
But maybe Lisa was a little bit ahead of the game:
For more than a century and a half of physics, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that entropy always increases, has been as close to inviolable as any law we know. In this universe, chaos reigns supreme.
But researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory announced recently that they may have discovered a little loophole in this famous maxim.
Their research, published in Scientific Reports, lays out a possible avenue to a situation where the Second Law is violated on the microscopic level.
Still, the violation was actually anticipated, yes, a century and a half ago:
As far back as 1867, physicist James Clerk Maxwell described a hypothetical way to violate the Second Law: if a small theoretical being sat at the door between the hot and cold rooms and only let through particles traveling at a certain speed. This theoretical imp is called “Maxwell’s demon.”
And you can’t get much more impish than quantum effects, am I right?
Citation: Lesovik, G. B. et al. H-theorem in quantum physics. Sci. Rep. 6, 32815; doi: 10.1038/srep32815 (2016).