Instructor: Timothy S. Sullivan 
Office: MAP 206 
Email: Sullivan@Kenyon.edu
Phone: 427-5830 
Office Hours: Monday, Thursday 1:10-4:00 PM, anytime my door is open, or make an appointment

Required Text: Daniel Schroeder, "An Introduction to Thermal Physics." See the author's web site for corrections to the book
   This course is essentially about what happens when you bring together large numbers of particles, as happens, for example, whenever you have even a speck of ordinary matter. (A gram of atomic hydrogen contains about 6 x 1023 atoms!) So much of the material in the course is essential for understanding how our world is constructed and we will see many examples in which this is the theme. Since there is no chance that we can solve Newton’s Laws for this many particles, we will see that we will have to be content with a statistical description of the motion of particles. The ideal gas (consisting of classical non-interacting particles) will be one of our most important touchstones, but we will also examine systems of spins as models of magnetism and the "mattress model" of the mechanical vibrations of solids, as well as several others. Toward the end of the semester, quantum mechanics will make a surprising appearance, allowing us to use the quantum version of the ideal gas to explain many of the properties of metals, superconductors, and neutron stars. 
    I will assign weekly problem sets that will be due at the beginning of class on Tuesdays. I hope to arrange a few labs/demonstrations to illustrate some of the concepts, but there will not be a regular lab in this course. There will be a, one-hour, in-class midterms at a time to be scheduled later. There will also be a midterm at the time (9:30AM, Monday, May 5) scheduled by the Registrar for our final exam in this class, but it will also be a one-hour midterm exam with the same weight as the others. Your final grade will be an average of the grades from your daily problems, homework, and midterms with the following weights: 

 
Two midterms
35% (each)
Homework
30%

In addition, there is an opportunity for extra credit. There will be a Physics Department colloquium nearly every Friday this semester. I will add a bonus for attending the talks in the amount of (grade on 4 pt scale w/o bonus)*(fraction of talks attended)*(0.1). To give you a sense of this, if you attend 100% of the talks and have a 3.0 average grade, you would get a bonus of 0.3 raising your grade from 3.0 to 3.3. This would raise your final grade from a B to a B+. (My one exception to this is that I will not raise an A to an A+ by this route.) 
 

Schedule of topics and homework (updated 1/21/08)

The remainder of this web page has two major purposes:

The first is a calendar function to help you keep track of the reading assignments and homework questions. This aspect also can help you keep a sense of perspective about where we have been and where we are going in the class. The entire semester is scheduled, but some rescheduling may be necessary, so be alert for changes. Check the update date in the heading above to see if changes have been made since you last viewed the web page.

The second major purpose is to provide you with immediate feedback on your assignments. As each assignment becomes due, the problem number will turn into a link to a completely worked out, handwritten, solution. While it is still fresh in your mind, you should compare your solution to the one given on the web page. Also, I have tried in my solutions to model good scientific writing. Note in particular that a sequence of equations is not enough to communicate clearly. You need words to explain the strategy of your solution, the relationship between concepts, and why the equations you use are applicable to the problem you are solving. I think you will find that writing out complete solutions will help you clarify the concepts in your own mind. (Note that this immediate feedback feature will keep me from accepting any late work.)  Solutions are also given for class discussion questions. You can use these while reviewing your class notes or supplementing your notes when we don't completely finish a problem during class.

Note that you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software to read the links below. Except for the exams and their solutions, you will also need  an account on Kenyon's network to view the problem solutions.

 
Date
Topic
Reading
Homework 
Due
 1/15 What do we already know about temperature, heat, and phases of matter?      
 1/17 Thermal equilibrium, temperature, absolute zero, ideal gases, equipartition of energy pages 1-17  
 1/22 Conservation of energy, heat and work, PdV work, compression of an ideal gas pages 17-27  
 1/24 Heat capacities, latent heat, and enthalpy pages 28-37  
 1/29 Thermal conduction, thermal conduction of an ideal gas pages 37-44 1.8 , 1.12, 1.16 , 1.22, 1.24, 1.28, 1.34
 1/31 Two state systems, Einstein solids pages 49-55  
 2/5 Interacting systems, Large systems, Stirling's approximation, statistics of an Einstein solid pages 56-67 1.39, 1.46, 1.61, 1.63
 2/7  Ideal gas, entropy, entropy of an ideal gas
 2/12  Entropy of mixing, reversible/irreversible processes, temperature  
 2/14   Entropy and heat, paramagnetism  
 2/19 Thermodynamic identity, Chemical potential
 2/21  First Midterm - In class - 50 minutes   
 2/26    
 2/28  Heat engines, Refrigerators
 3/18  Free energies, Free energy as available work  
 3/20  Free energy as force toward equilibrium, Phase transformations  
 3/25  Clausius-Clapeyron relation, van der Waals model  
 3/27  Boltzmann factor, Average values  
 4/1  Equipartition and the Maxwell distribution, Partition functions
 4/3  Ideal gas revisited and the Gibbs factor
 
 
4/8   Bosons and Fermions, Degenerate Fermi Gas (T=0)  
 4/10   Degenerate Fermi Gas (T > 0)
 4/15  Black-body radiation  
 4/17  Debye theory of solids  
 4/22  Bose-Einstein condensation  
 4/24  Ising modle of a ferromagnet  
 4/29  ??  
 5/1  ??  
5/5 Final Midterm - two hour 
 9:30-10:30AM