Chemists invoke bizarre Maxwell’s demon on the largest scale yet


Physicist James Clerk Maxwell proposed his demonic thought experiment in 1867

SSPL/Science Museum/Getty Images

A chemical pump based on a 19th-century thought experiment involving an invisible “demon” could be used to help separate chemicals in drug manufacturing.

Maxwell’s demon, first proposed by physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1867, involves two boxes of gas separated by a weightless door that is controlled by a tiny demon. The demon only lets faster-moving particles pass through in one direction and slower particles pass in the other direction, which makes one box hotter and the other cooler. But this seems to violate the …



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