Spring 2019 Syllabus Physics 45100

Physics 45100 M  Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics Spring 2019  Prof. J. Gersten

Code 38773

Lecture:           Monday and Wednesday 2:00-3:15 PM Room MR417N

Office:             MR311C, Office hours: Mon. and Wed. 11:00-11:50 AM in MR 311C,

Phone:             (212)650-7314

e-mail:             jgersten@ccny.cuny.edu

Textbook:        “An Introduction to Thermal Physics”, Daniel V. Schroeder (Addison-Wesley Longman, San Francisco, 2000) ISBN 0-201-38027-7.


The website for the course is http://portal.cuny.edu.  Log in and select BLACKBOARD to access the course.  Information will be filed in the CONTENT folder.


Other recommended books (some on reserve in the Science Library)

  1. “Statistical and Thermal Physics, H. Gould and J. Tobochnik, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2010).  ISBN: 9-780-691137445.
  2. “An introduction to thermodynamics, the kinetic theory of gases and statistical mechanics, second edition”, F. W. Sears.
  3. “Heat and thermodynamics; an intermediate textbook, fifth edition”, M. W. Zemansky.
  4. “Thermal physics, second edition”, C. Kittel and H. Kroemer.
  5. “Thermodynamics: an introduction to the physical theories of equilibrium, thermostatics and irreversible thermodynamics”, H. B. Callen, (Wiley, New York, 1960).
  6. “Thermodynamics”, E. Fermi.
  7. “Lectures on Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics”, V. Parameswaran Nair, The City College of New York
  8. “Thermal Physics – an introduction to thermodynamics, statistical mechanics and kinetic theory”, P. C. Riedi (Macmillan Press, 1976).
  9. “Concepts in Thermal Physics, 2nd edition”, S. J.Blundell and K. M. Blundell (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Another good book is:

 “Fundamentals of statistical and thermal physics”, F. Reif, (Wiley, New York, 1965).


Designation: Undergraduate


Catalog description:

45100: Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics

Temperature; equation of state; work, heat and the First Law; irreversibility, entropy and the Second Law; introduction to kinetic theory and statistical mechanics; low-temperature physics; the Third Law.

3 HR./Wk.; 3 CR.


Prerequisites: Physics 35100 and 35300; coreq. Math 39100 (required for all Physics majors).


Learning outcomes:

After successfully completing this course students should be able to:

1. Solve problems involving thermal equilibrium;

2. Calculate heat and work for thermodynamic processes;

3. Apply the First Law of Thermodynamics to simple physical systems such as the ideal gas, heat engines and refrigerators;

4. Solve problems involving the various heat capacities;

5. Solve problems involving the Second Law of Thermodynamics as applied to simple physical systems; 

6. Solve problems involving entropy and to be able to compute the entropy for simple physical systems; 

7. To be able to compute the efficiency of Carnot engines;

8. Solve problems involving mechanical, diffusive and chemical equilibrium;

9. Solve problems involving free energy and be able to apply thermodynamic potentials to simple physical problems;

10. Solve problems involving the thermodynamics of phase transformations;

11. Solve problems involving Boltzmann statistics;

12. Solve problems involving the Maxwell velocity distributionfor an ideal gas;

13. Compute partition functions for simple physical systems and to obtain the thermodynamic potentials from it

14. Solve problems involving the Fermi gas;

15. Solve problems involving blackbody radiation;

16. Solve problems involving the Debye theory of the specific heat of solids;

            17. Solve problems involving the Bose-Einstein condensation.

            18. Solve elementary problems using kinetic theory.



Grading Policy

Midterm (40%), Final (40%), Homework (15%), Class participation (5%).

Homework is to be assigned and is due one week after being assigned.  You need only hand in 3 problems from each problem set, even though more problems may be assigned.


Class schedule:

two 75 minute classes


Relationship of course to program outcomes:

a. students will be able to synthesize and apply their knowledge of physics and mathematics to solve physics-related problems in a broad range of fields in classical and modern physics, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics and statistical physics, optics, quantum mechanics, and experimental physics. 

c. students will be able to communicate their knowledge effectively and in a professional manner, in both oral and written forms.

d. students will be able to work cooperatively with other students and with faculty.

f. students will be able to use computers effectively for a variety of tasks, including data analysis, instructional-technology (IT) assisted presentations, report or manuscript preparation, access to online information sources, etc.


Preliminary syllabus


Lecture 1 M 1/28        Energy in Thermal Physics: Thermal equilibrium, the ideal gas

                                    Sections: 1.1-1.2 (Probs. 1.4, 1.12, 1.14, 1.16, 1.18)


Lecture 2 W 1/30        Energy in Thermal Physics: Equipartition of energy, heat and work

                                    Sections: 1.3-1.4 (Probs. 1.23, 1.25, 1.28)


Lecture 3 M 2/4          Energy in Thermal Physics: Compression work

                                    Section: 1.5 (Probs. 1.32, 1.34, 1.36, 1.38)


Lecture 4 W 2/6          Energy in Thermal Physics: Heat capacities, (rates of processes)

                                    Sections: 1.6 (1.7) (Probs. 1.42, 1.45, 1.47, 1.48, 1.50)


Lecture 5 M 2/11        The Second Law: Two-state systems, the Einstein model of a solid

                                    Sections: 2.1-2.2 (Probs. 2.1, 2.5)


Lecture 6 W 2/13        The Second Law: Interacting systems, large systems

                                    Sections: 2.3-2.4, B.3 (Probs. 2.9, 2.10, 2.12, 2.13, 2.15, 2.16)


Lecture 7 W 2/20        The Second Law: The ideal gas, entropy

                                    Sections: 2.5-2.6, B.4 (Probs. 2.18, 2.22, 2.26, 2.28, 2.29, 2.30, 2.32, 2.36)


Lecture 8 M 2/25        The Second Law: Temperature, entropy and heat

                                    Sections: 3.1-3.2 (Prob. 3.1, 3.3, 3.10, 3.14, 3.16)


Lecture 9 W 2/27        Interactions and Implications:  Paramagnetism

                                    Section: 3.3 (Probs. 3.20, 3.24, 3.25)


Lecture 10 M 3/4        Interactions and Implications:Mechanical equilibrium and pressure

                                    Section: 3.4 (Probs. 3.31, 3.32, 3.34)


Lecture 11 W 3/6        Interactions and Implications: Diffusive equilibrium, chemical potential

                                    Sections: 3.5-3.6 (Probs. 3.35, 3.37, 3.39)


Lecture 12 M 3/11      Engines and Refrigerators:  Heat engines The Carnot cycle

                                    Section: 4.1 (Probs. 4.1, 4.2, 4.5)


Lecture 13 W 3/13      Engines and Refrigerators:  Refrigerators

                                    Section: 4.2 (Probs. 4.8, 4.10, 4.14, 4.15)


Lecture 14 M 3/18      Engines and Refrigerators:  Real heat engines and real refrigerators

                                    Sections: 4.3- 4.4 (Prob. 4.20, 4.36)


Midterm Examination W 3/20     Covers Chapters 1 - 4


Lecture 15 M 3/25      Free energy and Chemical Thermodynamics:  Free energy, available work

                                    Sections: 5.1 (Probs. 5.1, 5.5, 5.11, 5.12, 5.13, 5.14)


Lecture 16 W 3/27      Free energy and Chemical Thermodynamics: Force toward equilibrium

                                    Sections: 5.2  (Probs. 5.21, 5.23)


Lecture 17 M* 4/1      Free energy and Chemical Thermodynamics: Phase transformation of pure substances

                                    Sections: 5.3 (Probs. 5.28, 5.30, 5.32, 5.35, 5.36)


  Lecture 18 W 4/3        Free energy and Chemical Thermodynamics: Phase transformation of mixtures

                                    Sections: 5.4-5.6 (Probs. 5.59, 5.77, 5.81, 5.83, 5.85)


Lecture 19 M 4/8        Boltzmann Statistics:  The Boltzmann factor, average values

                                    Sections: 6.1-6.2 (Probs. 6.3, 6.4, 6.6, 6.12, 6.15, 6.16)


Lecture 20 W 4/10      Boltzmann Statistics: Equipartition theorem, Maxwell speed distribution

                                    Sections: 6.3-6.4, B.1 (Probs. 6.17, 6.18, 6.20, 6.31)


Lecture 21 M 4/15      Boltzmann Statistics: Partition function and free energy, composite systems         

                                    Sections: 6.5-6.6 (Probs. 6.35, 6.36, 6.38, 6.41)


Lecture 22 W 4/17      Boltzmann Statistics: Ideal gas revisited

                                    Sections: 6.7 (Probs. 6.44, 6.48, 6.52)


Lecture 23 M 4/29      Quantum statistics:  The Gibbs factor, bosons and fermions

                                    Sections: 7.1-7.2, B.5 (Probs. 7.3, 7.8, 7.9, 7.10, 7.11)


Lecture 24 W 5/1        Quantum statistics: Degenerate Fermi gas

                                    Sections: 7.3 (Probs. 7.13, 7.19)


Lecture 25 M 5/6        Quantum statistics: Blackbody radiation

                                    Sections: 7.4 (Probs. 7.37, 7.42, 7.52)


Lecture 26 W 5/8        Quantum statistics: Debye theory of solids

                                    Sections: 7.5 (Prob. 7.58)


Lecture 27 M 5/13      Quantum statistics: Bose-Einstein condensation, (Interacting systems)

                                    Sections: 7.6, (8.1, 8.2) (Probs. 7.67, 7.68)


Final Examination       W 5/22  1:00-3:15 PM  Final Exam covers Chapters 1 – 7

(Topics in parentheses will only be covered if time permits).

*Monday, April 1, 2019 is the last date for grade W


Social Media

Sorry, but I don’t accept text messages, Facebook friendship offers, LinkedIn endorsement requests, etc.  Please do not use your picture phones in the classroom when class is in session.  Homework is not accepted by e-mail submission.


Statement on Academic Integrity

The City College policy on academic integrity applies to this course. It may be found online at the URL http://www.ccny.cuny.edu and clicking on Current Students / Academic Services / Policy on Academic Integrity.  Plagiarism and/or cheating are forbidden..  The Policy of Academic Integrity may be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin 2007-2009, Appendix B.3, on page 312.