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Plea for the use of the exact Stirling formula in statistical mechanics

Didier Lairez

SciPost Phys. Lect. Notes 76 (2023) · published 30 October 2023


In statistical mechanics, the generally called Stirling approximation is actually an approximation of Stirling's formula. In this article, it is shown that the term that is dropped is in fact the one that takes fluctuations into account. The use of the Stirling's exact formula forces us to reintroduce them into the already proposed solutions of well-know puzzles such as the extensivity paradox or the Gibbs' paradox of joining two volumes of identical gas. This amendment clearly results in a gain in consistency and rigor of these solutions.

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