Physics 75: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (Fall 2001)


9/27/01: The final exam date has been set by the registrar: Monday, Dec. 17, 2-5 pm in Merrill 211.


Course Information

Course Description

This course covers introductory thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, including:


MWF 10-11, Th 11:30-12:30 in 209 Merrill Science Center


Physics 35 or the equivalent, or my permission.

Course requirements




Required: Additional useful references (if the library doesn't have them, I'll try to get them):

Lecture Schedule

I'll try to post at least an outline of the lecture on the web, if I have time. This is more to motivate me to write them up that it is likely to be a useful resource for you... I'll also try to arrange some guest lectures from people that work in statistical mechanics or related field.

Week 1: Recalling Thermodynamics

Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14


I'll keep scheduling information on this site primarily. I'm not yet used to Courseinfo, but as I get used to it I may post more stuff on there.

Useful Links

I'll post interesting or useful links pertinent to the course here as they I come across them. If you come across any others, please let me know. Most of the articles from American Journal of Physics are appropriate for class presentations. The ones from the Los Alamos archive are typically professional preprints and are sometimes quite long and/or heavy going.

Presentation Schedule:

I'll post the schedule below. If you can't talk on your designated day, please give a a little advanced warning so that we can reschedule. When you tell me what you'd like to speak on, I'll post it below (and a link to the paper, if possible). Those that aren't speaking should read the papers that the speakers will be presenting; it will make it easier for you to digest the talk, to take an interest in the presentation, and to contribute meaningfully to the discussion. Those that are presenting, I encourage you to discuss your paper with me, your classmates, other faculty, anyone else that might be interest. Again, you can choose your own paper (run it past me first) or I can suggest one for you. If it turns out that a paper you're interested in requires material beyond what we've covered in the course so far, I can give you a preview.

Other Interesting talks in the Five-College area:

Interesting and useful papers



Applications of Thermodynamics

Probability and Random Walks

Statistical Mechanics

Bose Einstein Condensation

Other Applications of Statistical Mechanics

Non-Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics

Black holes

Renormalization group

Critical phenomena and Phase Transitions

Textbooks and Monographs: There are quite a few books on interesting stat-mech-related subjects that are at a level that's accessible to you. You could read a chapter or two and discuss. However, these are rarely self-contained, and it's difficult to get both a picture of what's interesting about the subject and some quantitative information by just reading a chapter. You'd probably want to choose a book of interest and then plan two or three related talks on subsequent chapters. You should check with me before pursuing these, though, since the substance, length, and difficulty of chapters can vary considerably within a text.

Some longer research papers from the Los Alamos Archive (you can download a PDF version of the paper by clicking on Other Formats). These are too long to do as talks, although you could do a piece of one of them if one catches your eye. Not all of them will be accessible to you, but you can see what people do for research in these subfields.