Statistical Physics and Thermodynamics: An Introduction to Key Concepts

ISBN : 9780199595075

Jochen Rau
208 ページ
171 x 246 mm

Statistical physics and thermodynamics describe the behaviour of systems on the macroscopic scale. Their methods are applicable to a wide range of phenomena: from heat engines to chemical reactions, from the interior of stars to the melting of ice. Indeed, the laws of thermodynamics are among the most universal ones of all laws of physics. Yet this subject can prove difficult to grasp. Many view thermodynamics as merely a collection of ad hoc recipes, or are confused by unfamiliar novel concepts, such as the entropy, which have little in common with the deterministic theories to which students have got accustomed in other areas of physics. This text provides a concise yet thorough introduction to the key concepts which underlie statistical physics and thermodynamics. It begins with a review of classical probability theory and quantum theory, as well as a careful discussion of the notions of information and entropy, prior to embarking on the development of statistical physics proper. The crucial steps leading from the microscopic to the macroscopic domain are rendered transparent. In particular, the laws of thermodynamics are shown to emerge as natural consequences of the statistical framework. While the emphasis is on clarifying the basic concepts, the text also contains a wealth of applications and classroom-tested exercises, covering all major topics of a standard course on statistical physics and thermodynamics.


1 Introduction
2 Quantum theory
3 Constructing the state
4 Simple systems
5 Thermodynamics limit
6 Perfect gas
7 Processes and responses
8 Phase transitions


Jochen Rau received degrees in physics and mathematics from Goethe University in Frankfurt, University of Cambridge, and Duke University. Following research appointments at Max Planck institutes in Heidelberg and Dresden, at the European Centre for Theoretical Studies in Nuclear Physics and Related Areas, and at Technical University of Darmstadt, as well as various industry positions, he is currently professor of mathematics at Rhine-Main Universities of Applied Sciences and visiting professor of theoretical physics at Ulm University. His research focuses on probabilistic aspects of quantum theory and statistical physics, as well as on methods and applications of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics.