Becoming Large, Becoming Infinite: The Anatomy of Thermal Physics and Phase Transitions in Finite Systems

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Abstract

This paper presents an in-depth analysis of the anatomy of both thermodynamics
and statistical mechanics, together with the relationships between their constituent parts. Based on this analysis, using the renormalization group and finite-size scaling, we give a definition of a large but finite system and argue that phase transitions are represented correctly, as incipient singularities in such systems.
We describe the role of the thermodynamic limit. And we explore the implications of this picture of critical phenomena for the questions of reduction and emergence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFOUNDATIONS OF PHYSICS
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • scaling, renormalization, large systems, incipient singularities, reduction, emergence

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