Challenges to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics | Daniel Sheehan

Challenges to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

Daniel Sheehan

University of San Diego

Over the last 15 years the absolute status of the second law of thermodynamics has come under increased scrutiny. More than two dozen distinct challenges have appeared in the refereed scientific literature—more than the sum total over the previous 150 years—raising the possibility that the second law might soon be shown violable in laboratory experiments.

This talk will survey recently proposed challenges from a number of research groups around the world, focusing on those most amenable to laboratory test. Possible ramifications of second law violation will also be discussed, the most significant of which might be the recyclability of environmental heat into usable work. The thermal energy content of the atmosphere, ocean, and upper crust is estimated to be more than 10,000 times that of the world’s fossil fuel reserves, making it a potentially inexhaustible reservoir of green energy.

1) “Challenges to the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Theory and Experiment” V. Capek and D.P. Sheehan; Fundamental Theories of Physics, Vol. 146 (Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands) 2005.

2) “Quantum Limits to the Second Law” D.P. Sheehan, Editor; AIP Conference Proceedings, Vol. 643 (AIP, Melville, NY) 2002.

Recorded at the 29th annual SSE Conference in 2010 in Boulder, Colorado, USA.

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Published on May 5, 2011