Thermal and Statistical Physics (3)
UM-StL Physics 341 - Fall '98
- 8:50am 14 Dec 1998: A key to Exam 4 was posted across
from the physics office, and the graded exam papers were
put into the physics office for distribution. The average
grade was around 50 +/- 17 out of 80 possible points./pf
This is an exciting time in statistical physics because of
developments this half-century in numerous fields (among them
information theory and complex systems), and in the discovery of
new paths to "simpler, deeper, and more widely
applicable" understanding that such paradigm changes offer.
Some implications for the introductory physics curriculum are
mentioned briefly in the web-outline
for a talk I gave, primarily on curriculum content improvements,
this summer at the American Association of Physics Teachers
meeting in Nebraska. I have also been asked to work on optional
sections for the new edition of a major calculus-based physics
text, so that an opportunity to "get your two bits" in
on that process may be available as well!
This semester, we will be working from an authorized copy
(provided to you by the department) of a promising new book
by Dan Schroeder (Weber University in Ogden Utah, to be published
by Addison-Wesley sometime in 1999) called "An Introduction
to Thermal Physics".
The book by Garrod (half of which is worked problems) listed
below and in stock at the bookstore will be used as a reference.
This course also now has a university-hosted
server. The login ID and password for the latter are both
[Physcs308.E01], at least for the time being...
Is it possible to describe recent insights underlying
statistical physics simply? Send your thoughts on one
attempt at this to email@example.com.
Questions this course might help you answer...
How many "ways to wiggle" per molecule does
water evidence at room temperature?
Where might one observe the "herd-behavior" of
bosons sharing a single ground state?
In what way do plants act as heat engines, and how
efficient are they in practice?
What is the equation of state for a gas containing only
What keeps small white dwarves from shrinking past a
Which expansion requires more energy: adiabatic,
isothermal, or isobaric?
How can spin-temperatures approach absolute zero from the
How to get mass action, equipartition, & the equation
of state from a single function!
Why and how might one convert between Kelvins, and eV/nat
How an invention might increase the winter heat
from a natural gas flame 8-fold?
What's the heat capacity of iron, in bits of uncertainty
per two-fold increase in energy?
How can Lagrange multipliers help you consider whatever
you know and don't know?
Why do the "several electron-volt" electrons in
metals really not burn your fingers?!
As an information engine, what is the upper limit on your
productivity in bytes/day?
How might statistical inference (and entropy) apply
elsewhere, to images for example?
Other resources of possible interest:
for Dan on solving problems with MathCad.
University of California at Irvine, thermal
U of I Physics Heat
Tom Schneider's page on
Information Theory and Molecular Machines.
for constant acceleration problems.
A question involving relativistic
acceleration which contains what you need to solve
a high-res electron microscope image on-line!
Does making a hotdog require 50 nanoseconds or more of life's
Is statistical physics a dead subject, or is there another
paradigm change afoot?
In preparation: assignment list, example tests, course
calendar, homework/exam solutions...
What other resources might help you? E-mail suggestions
At UM-StLouis see also:
Some current and previous courses: p111,
This release dated 15 Sep 1996
(Copyright by Phil
Math 180: Analytic Geometry and Calculus III (5)
Physics 231: Introduction to Modern Physics (3)
Prof: Phil Fraundorf 516-5933; Benton Hall 421
Office Hours: after class and by appointment
Text: An Introduction to Thermal Physics
by Schroeder (Addison-Wesley, 1999, provided by
department) and Statistical Mechanics &
Thermodynamics by Garrod (Oxford, 1995) for reference
Lectures: Ref#:33345, 06:55PM-08:45pm MW, B443
Approximate Distribution for Grade:
(1) Collected HomeWork / Quizzes - 20%
(3) Three 1-Hour Exams - 50%
(3) Comprehensive Final Exam - 30%
on subjects considered in this course...
Keith Stowe, Intro to Statistical Mechanics and
Thermodynamics (Wiley, 1984).
Kittel & Kroemer, Thermal Physics (WH Freeman,
George Arfken, Mathematical Methods for Physicists
(Academic Press, 1970 & later)
on stuff of more
Galileo Galilei - Dialog Concerning the Two Chief
World Systems (1632, translated by Stillman Drake, UC
Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,
2nd edition (U. of Chicago Press, Chicago IL, 1970)
Jearl Walker - The Flying Circus of Physics (Wiley
Joel A. Barker, The Business of Paradigms (ILI
Press, Lake Elmo MN, 1985)
R. P. Feynman - "Surely You're Joking, Mr.
Feynman!" (Bantam 1986)
K. Eric Drexler, Engines of Creation (Anchor
Doubleday, New York NY, 1986)
Stephen W. Hawking - A Brief History of Time