Meet Maxwell’s gambling demon—smart enough to quit while it’s ahead

Enlarge / In a new version of the classic 19th-century thought experiment, Maxwell’s demon plays the role of a gambler who knows when to quit while it’s ahead.Aurich Lawson / Getty Images

Entropy (aka the second law of thermodynamics) is a harsh mistress. If you think of the universe as a cosmic casino, the laws of thermodynamics amount to the house edge: you can’t win, you can’t break even, and—barring opening a portal to an alternate universe with different physical laws—you can’t get out of the game. You just have to keep playing and hopefully come up with successful strategies to minimize your losses as much as possible—and maybe even come

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