Not knowing what LO3476 said, I can't resist rising to the challenge (as I
read it) of John Warfield's questions.
> What is a "state of a system"?
> How do you count the number of them?
I take "system" as he has quoted Gibbs with our mutually agreed
exclusion of the "material" qualifier in Gibbs' definition. A system
is "any portion of the universe we choose to separate in thought
...for the purpose of considering and discussing changes which may
occur within it under varying conditions."
The "state" of something is the condition of that entity. To be able
to identify different states you need to be able to distinguish
different conditions of the system. To distinguish different
conditions, you need to be able to distinguish the features of the
system that you are interested in and be able to categorise those
things on a scale of some kind.
The number of states, I think, will depend on the above with the
added characteristics of intention for making the distinctions and of
usefulness of the number of distinctions. To follow Gibbs' approach,
"the portion we choose to separate and what we want to discuss will
determine the number of conditions" or the level of mastery that we
attain in working with a particular system will determine how many
conditions we can count.
I like the direction of my answer although I don't think it's
brilliant job of detailing it. But I couldn't resist challenging my
thinking against the questions. And I couldn't decide whether
sharing that process was of any value - so I leave it to you to
Thanks for the questions, John.
-- Michael McMaster Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk