The Better the Clock the More Entropy it Might Generate

In physics time and entropy have a very close relationship. The total entropy of isolated systems (such as the universe) always increases to the right of the arrow of time. For a long time, there have been suspicions that the two had a relationship, although we have not yet found strong evidence to support this. Even after we still understand its relationship to time and entropy, researchers can gain more luck with the clock.

It appears that the more accurately a watch is made, the more entropy it has. This connection was known for standardized clocks at the quantum level. And researchers are wondering if it can be extended to a fully macroscopic level. They didn’t get there perfectly, but they were able to get closer to our level. In a study adopted for publication in Physical Review X, the team described a nanometer-dense membrane about 1.5 millimeters long that vibrated like a clock tick.

This vibration was created thanks to electrical signals transmitted through the membrane. As the group becomes responsible for other sources of sound, the thermal noise is seen to increase directly with accuracy. “If you want a better watch, you have to pay for it,” Natalia Ares, a physicist and co-author at Oxford University, told Science News. The search for relationships (albeit different) is certainly exciting, but it is based on a single clock, so the results need to be investigated in the same way in each clock before generalization.

The searches also highlight that a watch that generates lots of entropy necessarily means that it is actually more accurate. This is not a two-way street. “Accuracy is based solely on entropy, making it completely possible to eliminate more entropy at higher driving powers without providing more accurate taxation for the system,” the team wrote in the paper.

“The fact that we see such a consistent linear relationship between appropriateness and entropy production for a sufficient range of cavity and white sound drives proves that our clock performance is close to optimal and we are accurately identifying relevant entropy contributions.”