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Quantum Physics, Second Edition by Alastair Rae

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9 · Only one way forward?

In this chapter we ask if there is some aspect of the nature of the thermodynamic changes that occur in measuring processes that could clearly distinguish them from the kind of process for which reversibility is a possibility and to which pure quantum theory can be applied. This idea has been suggested on a number of occasions, and was developed in the 1980s by Ilya Prigogine, who won a Nobel prize in 1977 for his theoretical work in the field of irreversible chemical thermodynamics. The starting point of the approach by Prigogine and his co-workers is a re-examination of the validity of the ergodic principle, which leads to the idea of the Poincaré recurrence. We made the point in the last chapter that, in the simple ...

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