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4  Low-Temperature Entropy (Alleged Third Law)

As mentioned in the introduction, one sometimes hears the assertion that the entropy of a system must go to zero as the temperature goes to zero.

There is no theoretical basis for this assertion, so far as I know – just unsubstantiated opinion.

As for experimental evidence, I know of only one case where (if I work hard enough) I can make this statement true, while there are innumerable cases where it is not true:

Note: It is hard to measure the low-temperature entropy by means of elementary thermal measurements, because typically such measurements are insensitive to “spectator entropy” as discussed in section 12.6. So for typical classical thermodynamic purposes, it doesn’t matter whether the entropy goes to zero or not.


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