The microscopic onset of irreversibility is finally becoming an experimental subject. Recent experiments on microscopic open and even isolated systems have measured statistical properties associated with entropy production, and hysteresis-like phenomena have been seen in cold atom systems with dissipation (i.e. effectively open systems coupled to macroscopic reservoirs). Here we show how experiments on isolated systems of ultracold atoms can show dramatic irreversibility like cooking an egg. In our proposed experiments, a slow forward-and-back parameter sweep will sometimes fail to return the system close to its initial state. This probabilistic hysteresis is due to the same non-adiabatic spreading and ergodic mixing in phase space that explains macroscopic irreversibility, but realized without dynamical chaos; moreover this fundamental mechanism quantitatively determines the probability of return to the initial state as a function of tunable parameters in the proposed experiments. Matching the predicted curve of return probability will be a conclusive experimental demonstration of the microscopic onset of irreversibility.
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