We present an insightful ‘derivation’ of the Langevin equation and the fluctuation dissipation theorem in the specific context of a heavier particle moving through an ideal gas of much lighter particles. The Newton’s law of motion (mx = F) for the heavy particle reduces to a Langevin equation (valid on a coarser time-scale) with the assumption that the lighter gas particles follow a Boltzmann velocity distribution. Starting from the kinematics of the random collisions we show that (1) the average force 〈F〉 ∞ −x and (2) the correlation function of the fluctuating forceη = F — 〈F〉 is related to the strength of the average force.
Volume 97, 2023
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