Fr.: démon de Maxwell
A → thought experiment meant to raise questions about the possibility of violating the → second law of thermodynamics. A wall separates two compartments filled with gas. A little "demon" sits by a tiny trap door in the wall. He is able to sort hot (faster) molecules from cold molecules without expending energy, thus bringing about a general decrease in → entropy and violating the second law of thermodynamics. The → paradox is explained by the fact that such a demon would still need to use energy to observe and sort the molecules. Thus the total entropy of the system still increases.