I have nothing against of fundamental science and I do not expect practical application for this paper.

Yet, I do not see fundamental results. What is in the paper is just a change of vocabulary. I would say that we are free to choose a definition. Well, right now when free will is under question such a statement might be ill-posed but I guess that you understand what I mean.

Let me start with "extracting energy from random molecular motion". Let us consider the next example. A macroscopic ball is flying in one direction. We suddenly make a potential barrier on its way and it flies back after the collision with this potential wall. Do we inject the energy in the system to change the ball trajectory or not? Could you please compare this example with the experiment described in the paper? What is the difference between the wall in the example and potential walls in the experiment?

My point above is that I am not convinced yet, that the energy in the experiment is extracted from random molecular motion. It might be possible to state this but then, in my view, some change in the normal vocabulary is needed. This has been taken in the paper for granted. Hence, I am not convinced.


"What you asked for was an example of using information to reduce entropy: not obtaining information AND using it to reduce entropy."

What do you mean here? I see two statements

"using information to reduce entropy"


"obtaining information AND using it to reduce entropy"

What in your view has been done in the paper and what difference do you see between these two statements.

Finally when I have quoted a statement from the paper

"In microscopic systems, thermodynamic quantities such as work, heat and internal energy do not remain constant"

I have meant the following. A thermodynamic system has an internal energy, the Gibbs energy, the entropy and other state functions. However a thermodynamic system does not possess work or heat, they are not state functions. A thermodynamic system can perform work or produce heat when it goes from one state to another. Hence the statement above as such is just sloppy.


On 26.03.2012 00:44 meekerdb said the following:
On 3/25/2012 6:44 AM, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
On 14.03.2012 19:58 meekerdb said the following:
On 3/14/2012 11:51 AM, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:


Then the thermodynamic entropy is subjective. Try to convince in this
engineers who develop engines, or chemists who compute equilibria, and
see what happens.

It is relative not just to the information but the use of that
information. Even if you told an engineer designing a steam turbine the
position and momentum of each molecule of steam he would ignore it
because he has no practical way of using it to take advantage of the
lower entropy that is in principle available. He has no way to flex and
deform the turbine blades billions of times per second in order to get
more power from the steam. The experiment I linked to is extremely
simple so that it is possible to use the information.


I have looked the paper that you have linked

On 13.03.2012 20:09 meekerdb said the following:
> On 3/13/2012 10:28 AM, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
>> Could you please give one example from physics (yet please not a
>> thought experiment) where information allows us to reduce entropy?

Experimental demonstration of information-to-energy conversion and
validation of the generalized Jarzynski equality
Shoichi Toyabe, Takahiro Sagawa, Masahito Ueda, Eiro Muneyuki & Masaki
Nature Physics, Volume: 6, Pages: 988–992 (2010)

I should say that I am not impressed. One can make a feedback
mechanism indeed (by the way, it is quite common in engineering), but
then in my view we should consider the whole system at once. What is
the information then and what is its relationship with the entropy of
the whole system?

What you asked for was an example of using information to reduce
entropy: not obtaining information AND using it to reduce entropy.

"The experiment does not actually violate the second law of
thermodynamics, because in the system as a whole, energy must be
consumed by the equipment — and the experimenters — to monitor the bead
and switch the voltage as needed."

By the way the information about the position of the bead have nothing
to do with its entropy.

It has to do with the entropy of the system of bead plus medium. The
rotating bead could be used to do mechanical work via energy which was
extracted from the random motion of the molecules in the medium. This is
Gibbs free energy, so the bead plus medium plus information has a lower
entropy that just the bead plus medium.

This is exactly what happens in any feedback systems. One can
introduce information, especially with digital control, but it has
nothing to do with the thermodynamic entropy.

Because it is not extracting energy from random molecular motion, aka

Then I like

"In microscopic systems, thermodynamic quantities such as work, heat
and internal energy do not remain constant".

The authors seem to forget that work and heat are not state functions.
How work and heat could remain constant even in a macroscopic systems?

They don't remain constant, but their statistical fluctuations are very
small compared to their absolute value. Of course if you had information
about these fluctuations you could use it to extract energy and decrease
the entropy of the system.

I also find the assumption at the beginning of the paper

"Note that, in the ideal case, energy to place the block can be
negligible; this implies that the particle can obtain free energy
without any direct energy injection."

funny. After block is there, the particle will jump in the direction
of the block and it will interact with the block. This interaction
will force the particle to jump in the other direction

The molecular motion of the medium forces it to jump one way or the
other at random, the information is used to keep it from jumping back.
So the work is extracted from the heat energy of the medium, not from
the interaction with the blocks.

and I would say the energy is there. The authors should have defined
better what they mean by direct energy injection.

In essence, in my view the title "information-to-energy conversion" is
some word game. It could work when instead of considering the whole
system in question, one concentrates on a small subsystem.

Any demonstration of the principle is going to concentrate on a small
system because it is impossible to use information about 1e26 molecules.
And of course it will be a "subsystem" in the sense that some other
device has to be used to get the information and if that device in
included as part of a closed system, then the 2nd law will apply - since
it applies to closed systems.

You seem to be arguing against claims that were not made by saying a
laboratory demonstration isn't a practical application.


Say if I consider a thermostat then I could also say that information
about the current temperature is transformed to the heater and thus to
energy. I am not sure if this makes sense though.


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