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Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics: An Integrated Approach (Cambridge Series in Chemical Engineering)


Author: M. Scott Shell

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


Publish Date: August 5, 2015

ISBN-10: 1107656788

Pages: 498

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

This is a text on the fundamentals of thermal physics and includes both the macroscopic and microscopic aspects of the subject. Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, like classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and quantum mechanics, are axiomatic theories based on small numbers of postulates. The two approaches to the subject give very different insights into the nature of thermal phenomena, supply different tools of analysis, and are essential research tools of the practicing physicist. Thermodynamics establishes the basic concepts for describing observed phenomena and establishes general relationships that are exact and independent of assumptions about the structure of matter. Statistical mechanics gives the microscopic basis of thermal behavior and supplies the tools for determining the properties of systems from their atomic level characteristics. The text is ideal for three types of courses: a one-semester course for undergraduates, a two-semester course for advanced undergraduates, and a statistical mechanics course for beginning graduate students. The book is written on the principle that a good text is also a good reference. By combining the macroscopic and microscopic approaches in a single book, we give students studying statistical mechanics a readily available source for reviewing the macroscopic concepts and relationships used in atomic-level studies.

We present thermodynamics and statistical mechanics as self-contained theories. Many texts merge the macroscopic and microscopic approaches and select the approach according to the result being sought. Although practicing scientists often mix concepts from different theories when investigating new situations, is not the best approach when teaching a subject. It leaves students with a hodgepodge of ideas instead of a coherent understanding of fundamentals. Once understood, the fundamentals are available for a wide range of applications.

Our presentation of the macroscopic aspects of the subject is tailored to the backgrounds of modern physics students. The logic of the Clausius–Kelvin formulation of thermodynamics is used, but our presentation is not traditional. We focus on the properties of equilibrium state space and utilize the student’s understanding of multidimensional spaces obtained from their studies of mechanics, electricity, and magnetism. The fundamental macroscopic concepts are developed while keeping in mind the student’s previous exposure to the atomic-level structure of matter.

Another unique aspect of our book is the treatment of the mathematics involved. We assume that students have completed the standard introductory sequence of calculus courses through partial differentiation and multidimensional integration. Nevertheless, we find that many students, even those who did well in those courses, have difficulties with the mathematics of thermal physics. This is especially true of thermodynamics, partially because they have not seen some of the methods used outside of their mathematics courses and partially because of the notation used. To overcome these difficulties, the essential mathematical concepts are reviewed before using them and the similarity of the mathematics to that employed in the other fields of physics is emphasized.

The book is divided into five parts. Part I introduces the concepts of thermal physics by applications to gases, liquids, and solids while making use of the first law of thermodynamics. Everyday phenomena are used to illustrate the concepts involved. The logical development of thermodynamics is the subject of Part II. The macroscopic concept of entropy is deduced and its importance for addressing concerns about energy conservation is outlined. The thermodynamic potentials are obtained and their role as succinct summaries of the equilibrium properties of systems is described.

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