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The Macro and Micro of it Is that Entropy Is the Spread of
T. A. Moore, and D. V. Schroeder, “A different approach to introducing statistical mechanics,” Am. J. Phys. 65, 26–36 (Jan. 1997).
F. Jeppsson, J. Haglund, and H. Strömdahl, “Exploiting language in teaching of entropy,” J. Balt. Sci. Educ. 10, 27–35 (2011).
B. D. Geller et al., “Entropy and spontaneity in an introductory physics course for life science students,” Am. J. Phys. 82, 394–402 (May 2014).
The zero-point energy does not change; therefore, it does not play a role in the thermodynamics of the system and can be ignored for these activities.
R. W. Chabay and B. A. Sherwood, Matter and Interactions, 4th ed. (Wiley, 2015).
T. A. Moore, Six Ideas that Shaped Physics (Unit T), 2nd ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2003).
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While entropy is often described as “disorder,” it is better
thought of as a measure of how spread out energy is within a system. To
illustrate this interpretation of entropy to introductory college or high school
students, several activities have been created. Students first study the
relationship between microstates and macrostates to better understand the
probabilities involved. Then, each student observes how a system evolves as
energy is allowed to move within it. By studying how the class’s ensemble of
systems evolves, the tendency of energy to spread, rather than concentrate, can
be observed. All activities require minimal equipment and provide students with
a tactile and visual experience with entropy.
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