Physics Colloquium: Brief violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, observed experimentally using a dusty plasma


While the second law of thermodynamics says that the heating effect of friction cannot be reversed, that rule actually only applies in the limit of large systems and long times. Violations of this description of the second law are in fact possible for small systems at short times. I will describe experimental observations of these violations, showing that they occur with a predictable probability. The experiments use video imaging of micron-size particles of solid matter. One of the experiments uses a plasma, or ionized gas, and I will explain the basics of plasmas. This talk includes videos of the experiments.