Physics 3704 - Thermal Physics

Spring 2008

Michel Pleimling                                                                                  
Office: Robeson 221
Phone: (540) 231-2675

Office hours:
Tuesday, Thursday: 2.30 - 3.30 p.m., Monday:  1.30 - 2.30 p.m., and by appointment

Thursday, Tuesday: 5.00 - 6.15 p.m., Robeson 101

Three to four problems will be assigned each Thursday. Solutions are due one week later in class (unless otherwise noted). Teamwork in solving these problems is encouraged, but solutions must be handed in separately. Your solutions will be graded, and sample solutions will be provided.

First midterm exam:
Tuesday, February 19, 5.00 - 6.15 p.m.
Second midterm exam:
Tuesday, March 25, 5.00 - 6.15 p.m.
Final exam (comprehensive):
Saturday, May 3, 7.00 - 9.00 p.m.

All are closed-books exams. A sheet with useful equations will be provided. The honor code pertains to all three in-class exams.

Grade distribution:
30 % homework, 20 % each midterm exam, 30 % final exam

PHYS 2306 - Foundations of Physics I

Recommended literature:
Draft chapters of Thermal and Statistical Physics by Harvey Gould and Jan Tobochnik, freely available at

M. Kardar, Statistical Physics of Particles (Cambridge 2007)

R. Baierlein, Thermal Physics (Cambridge 1999)

A. H. Carter, Classical and Statistical Thermodynamics (Prentice Hall 2001)

C. Kittel and H. Kroemer, Thermal Physics (Freeman 1980)

D. V. Schroeder, An Introduction to Thermal Physics (Addison-Wesley 1999)

1. Fundamentals of Statistical Mechanics

2. The microcanonical, the canonical and the grand-canonical ensembles

3. Thermodynamic processes

4. Quantum systems: Bose- and Fermi-statistics

5. Interacting systems and phase transitions