The Thermodynamic Arrow-of-time and Quantum Mechanics
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I give an explanation of the thermodynamic arrow-of-time (namely entropy increases with time) within a quantum mechanical framework. This entails giving a solution to the Loschmidt paradox, i.e. showing how an irreversible macro-dynamics can arise from a reversible micro-dynamics. I argue that, in accordance to the reversible dynamics, both entropy-increasing and entropy-decreasing transformations take place, but entropy-decreasing transformations cannot leave any information of their having happened. This is indistinguishable from their not having happened at all. The second law of thermodynamics is then reduced to a tautology: the only transformations that can be seen are those where entropy does not decrease. However, typicality arguments seem to prevent this argument to be used as a complete solution to the arrow-of-time dilemma: it might still be necessary to postulate a low entropy initial state for the system under consideration.
DepartmentW. M. Keck Foundation Center for Extreme Quantum Information Theory
Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science
Maccone, Lorenzo. “The Thermodynamic Arrow-of-Time and Quantum Mechanics.” Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science 270, no. 1 (February 2011): 75–79.
Final published version