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Entropy 2013, 15(10), 4432-4483; doi:10.3390/e15104432
Article

All Shook Up: Fluctuations, Maxwell’s Demon and the Thermodynamics of Computation

Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA
Received: 3 July 2013 / Revised: 17 September 2013 / Accepted: 22 September 2013 / Published: 17 October 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maxwell’s Demon 2013)
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Abstract

The most successful exorcism of Maxwell’s demon is Smoluchowski’s 1912 observation that thermal fluctuations would likely disrupt the operation of any molecular-scale demonic machine. A later tradition sought to exorcise Maxwell’s demon by assessing the entropic cost of the demon’s processing of information. This later tradition fails since these same thermal fluctuations invalidate the molecular-scale manipulations upon which the thermodynamics of computation is based. A new argument concerning conservation of phase space volume shows that all Maxwell’s demons must fail.
Keywords: entropy; computation; fluctuations; Maxwell’s demon; Landauer’s principle; thermodynamics entropy; computation; fluctuations; Maxwell’s demon; Landauer’s principle; thermodynamics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
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Norton, J.D. All Shook Up: Fluctuations, Maxwell’s Demon and the Thermodynamics of Computation. Entropy 2013, 15, 4432-4483.

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