Far-From-Equilibrium Physics: An Overview

Isolated systems tend to evolve towards equilibrium, a special state that has been the focus of many-body research for a century. Yet much of the richness of the world around us arises from conditions far from equilibrium. Phenomena such as turbulence, earthquakes, fracture, and life itself occur only far from equilibrium. Subjecting materials to conditions far from equilibrium leads to otherwise unattainable properties. For example, rapid cooling is a key process in manufacturing the strongest metallic alloys and toughest plastics. Processes that occur far from equilibrium also create some of the most intricate structures known, from snowflakes to the highly organized structures of life. While much is understood about systems at or near equilibrium, we are just beginning to uncover the basic principles governing systems far from equilibrium.

Author: Heinrich Jaeger, James Franck, Andrea J. Liu

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