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Canonical Ensemble Microstates

  1. Feb 11, 2016 #1
    Hi, I've been looking at working with the canonical ensemble and getting the probabilities of a system being at a certain energy. For reference, I am following something of the form given under 'Canonical Ensemble' in this article: https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Statistical_mechanics_and_thermodynamics#Canonical_Ensemble

    Now, I am not so sure about why we can say Pr = CΩ(E-Er). This seems to imply that the small system lumped onto the side of the heat bath can only have one microstate associated with its small energy. This would be fine by me if it was so incredibly small that the energies are quantised quantum mechanically (in which case one energy would probably correspond to one microstate, but even then not always), but of course this theory came about before quantum mechanics got a hold and whoever thought it up was thinking of particles flying around in a tiny box or something like that, surely. In that case, could you not just reverse all the velocities of all of the particles and call that another microstate with the same energy? I'm just having trouble understanding quite how small this little system is (i.e. does it have like one or two particles in it or is it that there are a lot of particles but far fewer than the number in the reservoir?)

    Sorry if this all sounds a bit confused.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2016 #2
    Thanks for the post! This is an automated courtesy bump. Sorry you aren't generating responses at the moment. Do you have any further information, come to any new conclusions or is it possible to reword the post?
     
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