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In our study
of classical thermodynamics, we concentrated on the application of statistical
physics to *macroscopic* systems. Somewhat paradoxically,
statistical arguments did not figure very prominently in this investigation.
In fact,
the only statistical statement we made was that it was *extremely unlikely* that a macroscopic system could violate the second law of
thermodynamics. The resolution of this paradox
is, of course, that macroscopic systems
contain a very large number of particles, and their statistical fluctuations are,
therefore,
negligible. Let us now apply statistical physics to *microscopic*
systems,
such as atoms and molecules. In this study, the underlying statistical nature
of thermodynamics will become far more apparent.

Richard Fitzpatrick
2006-02-02