Microscopic Irreversibility: Looking for a Microscopic Description of Time Asymmetry

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This paper is an attempt to understand time-reversal asymmetry better by developing the quantitative description of that asymmetry. The aim is not to explain the asymmetry, but to describe it in more detail. Two model systems are considered here; one is the classical Lorentz gas, the other a quantum Lorentz gas. In the classical case, it is argued that the distribution of the directions of motion of particles that are about to hit an obstacle is qualitatitvely different from the analogous distribution for particles that have just hit the obstacle (an entropy-like functional of the velocity distribution function is used to characterize the asymmetry). In the quantum case, a similar distinction is drawn between the density matrix describing particles that have not yet encountered an obstacle and the one describing particles that have hit an obstacle or are in the process of doing so.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-872
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Statistical Physics
Issue number1-6
Early online date4 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Convex functions
  • H-theorem
  • Irreversibility
  • Lorentz gas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics


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