98-651 J. Piasecki and Ch. Gruber
>From the adiabatic piston to macroscopic motion induced by fluctuations (190K, LATeX) Oct 16, 98
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Abstract. The controversial problem of the evolution of an isolated system with an internal adiabatic wall is investigated with the use of a simple microscopic model and the Boltzmann equation. In the case of two infinite volume one-dimensional ideal fluids separated by a piston whose mass is equal to the mass of the fluid particles we obtain a rigorous explicit stationary non-equilibrium solution of the Boltzmann equation. It is shown that at equal pressures on both sides of the piston, the temperature difference induces a non-zero average velocity, oriented toward the region of higher temperature. It thus turns out that despite the absence of macroscopic forces the asymmetry of fluctuations results in a systematic macroscopic motion. This remarkable effect is analogous to the dynamics of stochastic ratchets, where fluctuations conspire with spatial anisotropy to generate directed motion. However, a different mechanism is involved here. The relevance of the discovered motion to the adiabatic piston problem is discussed.

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