Physical Review Letters
Irreversibility is one of the most intriguing concepts in physics. While microscopic physical laws are perfectly reversible, macroscopic average behavior has a preferred direction of time. According to the second law of thermodynamics, this arrow of time is associated with a positive mean entropy production. Using a nuclear magnetic resonance setup, we measure the nonequilibrium entropy produced in an isolated spin-1/2 system following fast quenches of an external magnetic field. We experimentally demonstrate that it is equal to the entropic distance, expressed by the Kullback-Leibler divergence, between a microscopic process and its time reversal. Our result addresses the concept of irreversibility from a microscopic quantum standpoint.