Quantum Decoherence and the Approach to Equilibrium (Part 1)

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Shenker, Orly R.; Hemmo, Meir
preprint description
We discuss a recent proposal by Albert (1994a,b; 2000, Chapter 7) to recover thermodynamics on a purely dynamical basis, using the quantum theory of the collapse of the wave function of Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber (1986). We propose an alternative way to explain thermodynamics within no-collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics. Our approach relies on the standard quantum mechanical models of environmental decoherence of open systems, \eg Joos and Zeh (1985) and Zurek and Paz (1994). This paper presents the two approaches and discusses their advantages. The problems they face will be discussed in a sequel (Hemmo and Shenker 2002b).