The Dynamics of Disorder: From Clausius to Jarzynski.
Gavin Crooks, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The Second Law, which states that the entropy of any closed system increases in the direction of time we call the future, is the foundation and bedrock of thermodynamics. Yet entropy only increases with certainty for macroscopic systems. The tension between the time-symmetry of the microscopic dynamical laws and the inexorable increase in macroscopic entropy leads to a rich dynamics of disorder at molecular scales, where random thermal fluctuations can cause the entropy to transiently increase or decrease. I'll discuss some of the theoretical and experimental breakthroughs that have led to a deeper understanding of Second law, and the dynamics of molecular scale machines operating away from thermal equilibrium.