Location: Online (site is mirrored on CANVAS)
Meeting Times: MWF 1100-1150 by Zoom-link
or Asynchronous Video
Winter 2021 Instructor: Matt Graham (web)
Email: graham --AT-- physics.oregonstate.edu
Office Hours: W 12-1, F 11-12, Zoom-link
Phone: 514.737.4386


3/7/21 - Thanks for a great virtual term. [all course content is removed, but available upon request]

  Resources Items Covered Reading (recommended) Problem Sets Optional Resources or Video Supplements

Definitions and ideal gases, Thermodynamic Laws, Carnot Cycles, Entropy, Irreversible processes

n1 corrrected to read 'isothermal expansion'

Errata in v3
: catch my mistake, I wrote the engine efficiency as e=1+Tc/Th instead of e=1-Tc/Th

Chap 1 (Jansen),
OR Schroeder 1.1 to 1.5, 4.1 to 4.4

Video link-of-the day 1: Epic Thermodynamic Movie

Video links-of-the day 2: Carnot Cycle, Reversible vs. irreversible processes   (+ irreversible cycles II)

Video link-of-the day 3: Entropy; a classic cartoon

Example problem and solutions: comp exam 2014

2   Free energies, Thermodynamic and Chemical Potentials, Legendre Transforms, Maxwell's Relations, Thermodynamic Response Functions
Chap 2.1-2.5,
old n4
OR Sethna 5.1-5.3

Video link-of-the day 4: Maxwell's demon and information theory

Video link-of-the day 5: Entropy & Time
How much entropy in the universe?  

Video link-of-the day 6: Public Heat Capacity Misconceptions (more evidence of bad science education)


Thermodynamic and Mechanical Stability, Non-ideal gas behavior, Thermodynamics of Elastic Materials

Chap 2.7-2.9,


[MLK Day Holiday]

Video link-of-the day 7: Heat capacity of a tongue vs. a pole

Video link-of-the day 8: Rubber Band Thermal Imaging

Example problems and solutions: 2016 thermo comp exam questions, Maxwell comp exam problem , Optional: thermo stability exercise

4   Thermodynamics of Magnetic Materials
Phase Equilibrium, Gibbs phase rule, phase diagrams & transitions, probability

Chap 3.1 -3.5


Example problems and solutions: a magnetic Carnot cycle example

5   Ergodic Theory, Phase Space, Intro to Statistical Machanics, Most Probable Distribution Method Chap 2
(Jansen, Stat Mech)
Sethna: Chaps 3, 5
(McQuarrie Ch #2)

Video link-of-the day 12: When is a system ergodic?

Video link-of-the day 15: Sean Caroll: the universe is not ergodic

6   Canonical Ensemble, Thermodynamic Observables, Calculating (canonical) partition functions, 2D Lattice

Sethna: Chap 6, Chap 2 (Jansen)

the 4-Ensemble: cheat sheet


Link-of-the day 15: MatLab dice game
probability and dice rolls

What is the partition function? (and several good answers)

7   Classical vs. Quantum gas, Classical vs. Quantum Harmonic Oscillator

Sethna: Chap 6.1-6.3, 7.1-7.3


Example problems and solutions: the canonical comp exam question

8   Maxwell-Boltzmann Speed Distribution, Grand canonical ensemble, fluctuations

Sethna: Chap 6-7


Video link of day 21: Maxwell-Boltzmann Distribution

The MSU Physics Grand Canonical Ensemble(GCE) Choir. official website
YouTube Channel: the MSU Physics Grand Canonical Ensemble Chorus

9   Critical opalesence, Solid state statistical mechanics, Ising model preview, Semiconductor statisitical mechanics, doping, fermion Statistics Sethna: Chap 7  

22-nm transistor, doping and the GCE

Video link-of-the-day: BEC & thermal population

Optional Reading: Deriving the BEC conditions using the GCE (UMass)


Boson/Fermion Statistics, Fermi integrals and blackbody radiation

Interactive Review Session for Exam (Friday)

Sethna: Chap 7  

Solid-state optional aside: Fermi-Dirac Function, Fermi Integrals

Fermi-Dirac distribution comp exam problem (link fixed)

Video link-of-the-day: Ising Model preview

Final exam Friday March 19 at 07:30

Check back often! Schedule is tentative. (click reload!)