Live Blogging from Solvay Workshop /1

@ Solvay Workshop Nonequilibrium and Nonlinear Phenomena in Statistical Mechanics. Blogging will be very irregular.

Welcome talk, G. Nicolis. A vast and clear outline of the keywords and topics in the field. It’s interesting to notice that the techniques and main concepts have not changed much since the generation of Nicolis, Prigogine, Van Kampen, Graham et al. I’m surprised that he lingers on certain technicalities, and doesn’t pose more foundational questions.

Non-equilibrium fluctuation-induced forces, M. Kardar. Beginning of (quantum) statistical mechanics can be related to the Planck spectrum, leading to the textbook Stefan-Boltzmann law, and to the Casimir force in vacuum due to the phonon baths at different temperatures (instead of the charge difference) between two plates [experiment: Shen et al. Nano Lett. 9 (2009)][model: Rytov 1959].  Another question is what are the forces acting on two spheres at different temperatures, in a medium at some temperature. What are the forces as a function of the relative distance? [Kardar, Biamonte et al. Europhys. Lett. 95 (2011)].

Non-equilibrium self-assembly of polymeric nanoparticles in flow, Friederike Schmid. Grzybowski [et al. Sofrt matter 2009]: “Self-assembly is the ultimate dream of the lazy scientist: just mix the components and the forces of nature will assemble them into a desired structure”. The talk starts with some experimental realizations of what self-assembly with polimers means. The Cahn-Hilliard dynamics is a deterministic PDE that describes assembly in these models.

Universal features of NESS-fluctuations of single molecules and small networks, Udo Seifert. I know these topics very well. I particularly liked the statement “1% precision costs 20 000 kB T”. There’s an apparent clash between the uncertainty principle for the Fano factor of the entropy production rate [my own version here], that should be larger than 2, and the Fano factor for the heat discussed by Derrida in interacting particle models in the large N limit in certain geometries, which comes out to be 1/3. Hopefully that factor 6 is only due to the definitions of heat/ entropy production rate, but if not so than there is a problem…


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