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Statistical Mechanics: A Concise Introduction for Chemists


Author: Benjamin Widom

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


Publish Date: May 3, 2002

ISBN-10: 521009669

Pages: 182

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Statistical mechanics is the theoretical apparatus used to study the properties of macroscopic systems – systems made up of many atoms or molecules – and relates those properties to the systems’ microscopic constitution. This book is an introduction to statistical mechanics, intended to be used either by advanced undergraduates or by beginning graduate students.

The first chapter deals with statistical thermodynamics and aims to derive quickly the most commonly used formulas in the subject. The bulk of the book then illustrates the traditional applications of these formulas, such as the ideal gas, chemical equilibrium constants from partition functions, the ideal harmonic solid, and the statistical mechanical basis of the third law of thermodynamics. The last few chapters deal with less traditional material such as the non-ideal gas and the quantum ideal gases.

BENJAMINWIDOM is Goldwin Smith Professor of Chemistry at Cornell University. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from that university (where he studied with S.H. Bauer) in 1953, and was a postdoctoral associate with O.K. Rice at the University of North Carolina, before joining the Cornell chemistry faculty in 1954.

His research specialty is statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, particularly as applied to problems of phase equilibria, critical phenomena, and interfacial structure and thermodynamics. He is co-author with Professor Sir John Rowlinson, of Oxford University, of the research monograph Molecular Theory of Capillarity (1982).

He has held numerous prestigious visitorships, including ones at Amsterdam (van der Waals Professor), Oxford (IBM Visiting Professor of Theoretical Chemistry), Leiden (Lorentz Professor), and Utrecht (Kramers/Debye Professor). He has had many awards in recognition of his research in statistical mechanics, including the Boltzmann Medal of the IUPAP Commission on Statistical Physics and the Onsager Medal of the University of Trondheim. He has honorary degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Utrecht, and has been elected to membership or fellowship of several scholarly academies including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

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