Exorcist XIV: The Wrath of Maxwell’s Demon. Part I. From Maxwell to Szilard

Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 29 (4):435-471 (1998)
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Abstract

In this first part of a two-part paper, we describe efforts in the early decades of this century to restrict the extent of violations of the Second Law of thermodynamics that were brought to light by the rise of the kinetic theory and the identification of fluctuation phenomena. We show how these efforts mutated into Szilard’s proposal that Maxwell’s Demon is exorcised by proper attention to the entropy costs associated with the Demon’s memory and information acquisition. In the second part we will argue that the information theoretic exorcisms of the Demon provide largely illusory benefits. According to the case, they either return a presupposition that can be had without information theoretic consideration or they postulate a broader connection between information and entropy than can be sustained.

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Author Profiles

John Earman
University of Pittsburgh
John D. Norton
University of Pittsburgh

Citations of this work

Taking Thermodynamics Too Seriously.Craig Callender - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (4):539-553.
Eaters of the lotus: Landauer's principle and the return of Maxwell's demon.John D. Norton - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (2):375-411.
Statistical mechanics and thermodynamics: A Maxwellian view.Wayne C. Myrvold - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):237-243.

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