Foundations of Physics

, Volume 13, Issue 10, pp 989–997 | Cite as

Maxwell's Demon and detailed balancing

  • L. G. M. Gordon


A particle of molecular dimensions which can exist in two states is associated with a membrane pore through which molecules of a gas can pass. The gas molecules from two identical phases on either side of the membrane may pass only when the particle is in one particular state. If certain restrictions are imposed on the system, then the particle appears to act like a Maxwell's Demon(1) which “handles” the gas molecules during their passage through the pore.


Molecular Dimension Membrane Pore Detailed Balance Identical Phasis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    J. C. Maxwell, inTheory of Heat (1871); quoted by W. Ehrenberg,Sci. Am. 217, 103 (1967).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    L. Szilard,Z. Phys. 53, 840 (1929).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    L. Brillouin,J. appl. Phys. 22, 334 (1951).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    K. R. Popper,Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 8, 151 (1957).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Letter from J. C. Maxwell to P. G. Tait, 11 December 1867; quoted by Klein.(8) Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    A. B. Pippard,Elements of Classical Thermodynamics (Cambridge University Press, 1957), pp. 99–100.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    C. S. F. McClare,J. theor. Biol. 30, 1 (1971).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    M. J. Klein,Am. Scientist 58, 84 (1970).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    L. G. M. Gordon,Found. Phys. 11, 103 (1981).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    L. Onsager,Phys. Rev. 37, 405 (1931).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    R. Schlegel,Nature 178, 381 (1956).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    S. B. Hladky and D. A. Haydon,Nature 225, 451 (1970).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    W. Yourgrau, A. van der Merwe, and G. Raw,Treatise on Irreversible and Statistical Thermophysics (Dover, New York, 1982), p. 36.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. G. M. Gordon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations