- Conference date: 29-31 July 2002
- Location: San Diego, California (USA)
Thomson’s formulation of the second law ‐ no work can be extracted from a system coupled to a bath through a cyclic process ‐ is believed to be a fundamental principle of nature. For the equilibrium situation a simple proof is presented, valid for macroscopic sources of work. Thomson’s formulation gets limited when the source of work is mesoscopic, i.e. when its number of degrees of freedom is large but finite. Here work‐extraction from a single equilibrium thermal bath is possible when its temperature is large enough. This result is illustrated by means of exactly solvable models. Finally we consider the Clausius principle: heat goes from high to low temperature. A theorem and some simple consequences for this statement are pointed out.
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