Foundations of Physics

, Volume 37, Issue 12, pp 1767-1773

First online:

Information Loss as a Foundational Principle for the Second Law of Thermodynamics

  • T. L. DuncanAffiliated withCenter for Science Education, Portland State UniversityDepartment of Physics, Pacific University Email author 
  • , J. S. SemuraAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, Portland State University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


In a previous paper (Duncan, T.L., Semura, J.S. in Entropy 6:21, 2004) we considered the question, “What underlying property of nature is responsible for the second law?” A simple answer can be stated in terms of information: The fundamental loss of information gives rise to the second law. This line of thinking highlights the existence of two independent but coupled sets of laws: Information dynamics and energy dynamics. The distinction helps shed light on certain foundational questions in statistical mechanics. For example, the confusion surrounding previous “derivations” of the second law from energy dynamics can be resolved by noting that such derivations incorporate one or more assumptions that correspond to the loss of information. In this paper we further develop and explore the perspective in which the second law is fundamentally a law of information dynamics.


Second law Entropy Information Statistical mechanics Thermodynamics