What is temperature? Modern outlook on the concept of temperature: Modern Outlook on the Concept of Temperature

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The meaning and evolution of the notion of “temperature” (which is a key concept for the condensed and gaseous matter theories) are addressed from different points of view. The concept of temperature has turned out to be much more fundamental than conventionally thought. In particular, the temperature may be introduced for systems built of a “small” number of particles and particles at rest. The Kelvin temperature scale may be introduced into quantum and relativistic physics due to the fact that the efficiency of the quantum and relativistic Carnot cycles coincides with that of the classical one. The relation of temperature with the metrics of the configurational space describing the behavior of systems built from non-interacting particles is demonstrated. The role of temperature in constituting inertia and gravity forces treated as entropy forces is addressed. The Landauer principle asserts that the temperature of a system is the only physical value defining the energy cost of the isothermal erasure of a single bit of information. The fundamental role of the temperature of the cosmic microwave background in modern cosmology is discussed. The range of problems and controversies related to the negative absolute temperature is treated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1366
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Entropic force
  • Landauer’s principle
  • Metrics of the configurational space
  • Quantum Carnot engine
  • Relativistic Carnot cycle
  • Temperature


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