Reality in a Few Thermodynamic Reference Frames: Statistical Thermodynamics From Boltzmann via Gibbs to Einstein
14 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 24, 2020
The success of a few theories in statistical thermodynamics can be correlated with their selectivity to reality. These are the theories of Boltzmann, Gibbs, and Einstein.
The starting point is Carnot’s theory, which defines implicitly the general selection of reality relevant to thermodynamics. The three other theories share this selection, but specify it further in detail. Each of them separates a few main aspects within the scope of the implicit thermodynamic reality. Their success grounds on that selection. Those aspects can be represented by corresponding oppositions. These are: macroscopic – microscopic; elements – states; relational – non-relational; and observable – theoretical. They can be interpreted as axes of independent qualities constituting a common qualitative reference frame shared by those theories. Each of them can be situated in this reference frame occupying a different place. This reference frame can be interpreted as an additional selection of reality within Carnot’s initial selection describable as macroscopic and both observable and theoretical. The deduced reference frame refers implicitly to many scientific theories independent of their subject therefore defining a general and common space or subspace for scientific theories (not for all).
The immediate conclusion is: The examples of a few statistical thermodynamic theories demonstrate that the concept of “reality” is changed or generalized, or even exemplified (i.e. “de-generalized”) from a theory to another.
Still a few more general suggestions referring the scientific realism debate can be added: One can admit that reality in scientific theories is some partially shared common qualitative space or subspace describable by relevant oppositions and rather independent of their subject quite different in general. Many or maybe all theories can be situated in that space of reality, which should develop adding new dimensions in it for still newer and newer theories. Its division of independent subspaces can represent the many-realities conception. The subject of a theory determines some relevant subspace of reality. This represents a selection within reality, relevant to the theory in question. The success of that theory correlates essentially with the selection within reality, relevant to its subject.
Keywords: Boltzmann, Carnot, Einstein, Gibbs, elements and system, parts and a whole, phenomenological thermpdynamics, statistical thermodynamics
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