maxwell's demon

Science Dictionary
Maxwell's demon   (māks'wělz', -wəlz)  Pronunciation Key 
An imaginary creature who is able to sort fast-moving molecules from slow-moving molecules without adding any energy to the system. Such a creature could separate a gas into two containers, one containing hot gas and the other cold gas, bringing about a general decrease in entropy and violating the second law of thermodynamics; however, such a creature is impossible, since the act of observing the molecules to detect their speed must add energy to the system.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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maxwell's demon

an imaginary creature that controls a small hole in a partition that divides a chamber filled with gas into two parts and allows fast molecules to move in one direction and slow molecules to move in the other direction through the hole; this would result in one part of the container becoming warmer and the other cooler, thus decreasing entropy and violating the second law of thermodynamics 
WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University.
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