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From the adiabatic piston to macroscopic motion induced by fluctuations

Listed author(s):
  • Piasecki, J.
  • Gruber, Ch.
Registered author(s):

    The controversial problem of the evolution of an isolated system with an internal adiabatic wall is investigated with the use of a simple microscopic model and the Boltzmann equation. In the case of two infinite volume one-dimensional ideal fluids separated by a piston whose mass is equal to the mass of the fluid particles we obtain a rigorous explicit stationary non-equilibrium solution of the Boltzmann equation. It is shown that at equal pressures on both sides of the piston, the temperature difference induces a non-zero average velocity, oriented toward the region of higher temperature. It thus turns out that despite the absence of macroscopic forces the asymmetry of fluctuations results in a systematic macroscopic motion. This remarkable effect is analogous to the dynamics of stochastic ratchets, where fluctuations conspire with spatial anisotropy to generate directed motion. However, a different mechanism is involved here. The relevance of the discovered motion to the adiabatic piston problem is discussed.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications.

    Volume (Year): 265 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 463-472

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:265:y:1999:i:3:p:463-472
    DOI: 10.1016/S0378-4371(98)00553-6
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