Isolated system

Properties of Isolated, closed, and open systems in exchanging energy and matter.

Though subject internally to its own gravity, an isolated system is usually taken to be outside the reach of external gravitational and other long-range forces.

An isolated system obeys the conservation law that its total energy–mass stays constant. Most often, in thermodynamics, mass and energy are treated as separately conserved.

Classical thermodynamics is usually presented as postulating the existence of isolated systems. It is also usually presented as the fruit of experience. Obviously, no experience has been reported of an ideally isolated system.

It is, however, the fruit of experience that some physical systems, including isolated ones, do seem to reach their own states of internal thermodynamic equilibrium. Classical thermodynamics postulates the existence of systems in their own states of internal thermodynamic equilibrium. This postulate is a very useful idealization.

For radiative isolation, the walls should be perfectly conductive, so as to perfectly reflect the radiation within the cavity, as for example imagined by Planck.

If the cavity with perfectly reflective walls contains enough radiative energy to sustain a temperature of cosmological magnitude, then the speck of carbon is not needed because the radiation generates particles of substance, such as for example electron-positron pairs, and thereby reaches thermodynamic equilibrium.