# Statistical Mechanics: Two systems reaching an equilibrium temperature

• tanaygupta2000
In summary: So you are not asked to find the exact equilibrium temperature, but just the sign.In summary, the conversation discusses finding the equilibrium temperature of two systems, one with a positive temperature and the other with a negative temperature. The individual temperatures are found using the formula for partition functions and equating them to the given total energies. One approach to finding the equilibrium temperature is to explicitly calculate it, while the other approach is to determine its sign without calculations. The expert suggests that the first system cannot have a negative temperature and therefore the equilibrium temperature will have a positive temperature in both systems.
tanaygupta2000
Homework Statement
System A has N particles and infinite energy levels 0, ε, 2ε, 3ε, ... is kept in thermal contact with system B having N particles and two energy levels 0 and ε, till they reach equilibrium. The total energy of system A is Nε and that of system is 3Nε/4. What is the sign of equilibrium temperature?
Relevant Equations
Partition function, Z = ∑exp[-E(j)/kT]
Total energy, E = NkT^2 d[ln(Z)]/dT
First I found partition functions of both the systems and hence total energies of them using above formulas.
Z(A) = (1 - e-ε/kT)-1 and Z(B) = (1 + e-ε/kT)
Then I equated these values to the given values of total energies.
I got:
For System A, T(A) = ε/kln(2) > 0
For System B, T(B) = -ε/kln(3) < 0
Now how do I find the equilibrium temperature when these systems are kept in thermal contact?
Do I have to take the average values of T(A) and T(B) ?

The equilibrium doesn't have to be at the average temperature (simple counterexample: Ice and a bit of hot water). Total energy is conserved, you can find the temperature as function of the energy of the individual systems. The equilibrium is at the place where the total energy stays the same but both systems have the same temperature.
The problem only asks about the sign, however. Can the first system achieve a negative temperature? If not, you don't need to calculate anything.

mfb said:
The equilibrium doesn't have to be at the average temperature (simple counterexample: Ice and a bit of hot water). Total energy is conserved, you can find the temperature as function of the energy of the individual systems. The equilibrium is at the place where the total energy stays the same but both systems have the same temperature.
The problem only asks about the sign, however. Can the first system achieve a negative temperature? If not, you don't need to calculate anything.
Since ε is positive, the temperature, being a function of ε, of first system is positive while that of second is negative. Now how do I proceed next for equilibrium ?

Initially the temperature of the first is positive and the second is negative, yes, but that isn't helping much.
tanaygupta2000 said:
Now how do I proceed next for equilibrium ?
I wrote two approaches in my previous post. The first one is to explicitly calculate the equilibrium, the second one is just to determine its sign without calculations (or with minimal calculations).

mfb said:
The equilibrium is at the place where the total energy stays the same but both systems have the same temperature.
Okay the equilibrium temperature is the temperature when the energies of systems A and B are equal.
So I need to find the temperature where E = Nε + 3Nε/4.

tanaygupta2000 said:
Okay the equilibrium temperature is the temperature when the energies of systems A and B are equal.
Why?
That's certainly not true in general.

Stop guessing around. I posted two approaches that you can follow, they will both lead to the answer.

tanaygupta2000
mfb said:
Why?
That's certainly not true in general.

Stop guessing around. I posted two approaches that you can follow, they will both lead to the answer.
Sorry sir I'm not getting your approaches.
I'm having two systems, one with a positive temperature and other with negative. I'm just asking for a simple formula for obtaining the equilibrium temperature of these two.

Let's break it down step by step:

> Total energy is conserved
Can you write that as an equation?

> you can find the temperature as function of the energy of the individual systems.
You found the temperature at one specific energy, you can find it as function of energy in general.

> The equilibrium is at the place where the total energy stays the same but both systems have the same temperature.
That's one equation, the other one comes from the total energy. That gives you two equations and two unknowns so you can solve the problem.

tanaygupta2000
By applying conservation of energy,
Nεe-ε/kT/(1-e-ε/kT) + Nεe-ε/kT/(1+e-ε/kT) = Nε + 3Nε/4
I am getting
T(ε) = -ε/k ln(7/4)
Is this correct ?

Last edited:
The answer is not correct. If you plug it into the first term of the first equation you end up with a negative energy which doesn't make sense.

mfb said:
The problem only asks about the sign, however. Can the first system achieve a negative temperature? If not, you don't need to calculate anything.
First system is having positive temperature.
Second system is having negative temperature.
I need to determine only the 'sign' of equilibrium temperature.
I'm not getting a way how to do it.
I've tried every way I know.
Please help it's my assignment !
Its the only part of the only question out of 20 questions I'm having confusion.

Last edited:
It's really a tiny step from what I hinted towards already: The first system has a positive temperature at any energy. It cannot have a negative temperature. That means once you show that you are done: Whatever the equilibrium energy distribution might be, it will have a positive temperature in both systems.

## 1. What is statistical mechanics?

Statistical mechanics is a branch of physics that uses statistical methods to explain the behavior of a large number of particles in a system. It is based on the idea that the macroscopic properties of a system can be understood by studying the microscopic behavior of its individual particles.

## 2. How do two systems reach an equilibrium temperature?

In statistical mechanics, two systems reach an equilibrium temperature when the rate of energy exchange between them becomes equal. This means that the average energy of the particles in both systems becomes the same, resulting in a stable equilibrium state.

## 3. What factors affect the equilibrium temperature between two systems?

The equilibrium temperature between two systems is affected by the number of particles in each system, the nature of the particles, and the type of interaction between the systems. Other factors such as external forces and constraints can also play a role.

## 4. How is statistical mechanics used in real-world applications?

Statistical mechanics has a wide range of applications in various fields such as physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering. It is used to study the behavior of gases, liquids, and solids, as well as complex systems such as biological molecules and materials.

## 5. What are some key concepts in statistical mechanics?

Some key concepts in statistical mechanics include entropy, which measures the disorder or randomness of a system, and the Boltzmann distribution, which describes the probability of particles having a certain energy in a system at a given temperature. Other important concepts include partition functions, phase transitions, and the laws of thermodynamics.

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