Summary and Info
The question of how reversible microscopic equations of motion can lead to irreversible macroscopic behaviour has been one of the central issues in statistical mechanics for more than a century. The basic issues were known to Gibbs. Boltzmann conducted a very public debate with Loschmidt and others without a satisfactory resolution. In recent decades there has been no real change in the situation. In 1993 we discovered a relation, subsequently known as the FluctuationTheorem (FT), which gives an analytical expression for the probability of observing Second Law violating dynamical ¯uctuations in thermostatted dissipative non-equilibrium systems. The relation was derived heuristically and applied to the special case of dissipative non-equilibrium systems subject to constant energy thermostatting'. These restrictions meant that the full importance of the Theorem was not immediately apparent. Within a few years, derivations of the Theorem were improved but it has only been in the last few of years that the generality of the Theorem has been appreciated. We now know that the Second Law of Thermodynamics can be derived assuming ergodicity at equilibrium, and causality. We take the assumption of causality to be axiomatic. It is causality which ultimately is responsible for breaking time reversal symmetry and which leads to the possibility of irreversible macroscopic behaviour.