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The working of ductile metals and the doctrine of maximum entropy

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The work-hardening of metals exhibits a precursor phase, a self-organised-critical phase, and an exhaustion phase; occasionally, even a born-again phase. All of these involve intermittent flow and symmetry breaking. One can relate this to coarse-grained engineering variables such as plastic strain show an ‘infinitesimal’ increment large enough to keep the system always in a critical state. A repeated theme in understanding all of these is the tendency for complex mechanical systems to maximise the number of pathways available in response to large external forces. This is the doctrine of maximum entropy defined as a smoothed extensive thermodynamic quantity. The entropy is maximised subject always to the constraint of what processes are possible according to mechanics and the boundary conditions.

This talk is part of the Physics and Chemistry of Solids Group series.

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