Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Length of Time's Arrow

A wonderful paper addressing the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics at the microscopic scale. In this case, they set up an 'experiment' on a single RNA molecule.

Abstract: An unresolved problem in physics is how the thermodynamic arrow of time arises from an underlying time reversible dynamics. We contribute to this issue by developing a measure of time-symmetry breaking, and by using the work fluctuation relations, we determine the time asymmetry of recent single molecule RNA unfolding experiments. We define time asymmetry as the Jensen-Shannon divergence between trajectory probability distributions of an experiment and its time-reversed conjugate. Among other interesting properties, the length of time's arrow bounds the average dissipation and determines the difficulty of accurately estimating free energy differences in nonequilibrium experiments.

The reference to the actual PRL paper is included in the ArXiv version.


1 comment:

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