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thermodynamics

materials science

The Shape-Shifting Squeeze Coolers

August 24, 2020

Push or crush a new class of materials, and they’ll undergo record-breaking temperature changes.

universality

The Universal Law That Aims Time’s Arrow

August 1, 2019

A new look at a ubiquitous phenomenon has uncovered unexpected fractal behavior that could give us clues about the early universe and the arrow of time.

Photo of Escherichia coli under a microscope
Abstractions blog

Swarming Bacteria Create an ‘Impossible’ Superfluid

July 26, 2018

Researchers explore a loophole that extracts useful energy from a fluid’s seemingly random motion. The secret? Sugar and asymmetry.

Illustration for thermodynamics
Abstractions blog

Quantum Correlations Reverse Thermodynamic Arrow of Time

April 2, 2018

A recent experiment shows how quantum mechanics can make heat flow from a cold body to a hot one, an apparent (though not real) violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

origins of life

First Support for a Physics Theory of Life

July 26, 2017

Take chemistry, add energy, get life. The first tests of Jeremy England’s provocative origin-of-life hypothesis are in, and they appear to show how order can arise from nothing.

information theory

The Quantum Thermodynamics Revolution

May 2, 2017

As physicists extend the 19th-century laws of thermodynamics to the quantum realm, they’re rewriting the relationships among energy, entropy and information.

cosmology

A Debate Over the Physics of Time

July 19, 2016

According to our best theories of physics, the universe is a fixed block where time only appears to pass.

ecology

The Thermodynamic Theory of Ecology

September 3, 2014

Nature’s large-scale patterns emerge from incomplete surveys that borrow ideas from information theory.

The arrow of time.
time

Time’s Arrow Traced to Quantum Source

April 16, 2014

A new theory explains the seemingly irreversible arrow of time while yielding insights into entropy, quantum computers, black holes, and the past-future divide.