Thermodynamics of an Empty Box

Entropy 25 (315):1-30 (2023)
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A gas in a box is perhaps the most important model system studied in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Usually, studies focus on the gas, whereas the box merely serves as an idealized confinement. The present article focuses on the box as the central object and develops a thermodynamic theory by treating the geometric degrees of freedom of the box as the degrees of freedom of a thermodynamic system. Applying standard mathematical methods to the thermody- namics of an empty box allows equations with the same structure as those of cosmology and classical and quantum mechanics to be derived. The simple model system of an empty box is shown to have interesting connections to classical mechanics, special relativity, and quantum field theory.



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Paul Needham
Stockholm University

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