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Thermal and Statistical Physics

PHYS 316
Spring 2022
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: PHYS 516
Course Cluster and Certificates: Integrated Design, Engineering & Applied Science Minor

Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics are pillars of physics. Thermodynamics provides a framework through which we can understand the rules for the conversion of energy and matter from one form to another. As we will learn, every transfer of energy results in the conversion of some energy into an unusable form. Using the tools of thermodynamics, we can establish limits for the amount of useful work that can be extracted from any process. These limits have important implications for the quest to achieve sustainability in our use of energy and materials. As we learn about thermodynamics, we will spend some time exploring this real-world application of the material covered.

Likewise, statistical mechanics provides us with a set of tools for understanding how the behavior of individual atoms and molecules impacts the properties and behavior of materials that can be observed in our daily lives. Our approach to this material differs from many previous physics courses and requires a mixture of statistical and counting skills, coupled with physical intuition for the nature of matter. In addition to explaining phase transitions, critical phenomena, and the statistical nature of fermions and bosons, the tools of statistical mechanics are essential for understanding phenomena like evaporative cooling and the greenhouse effect. We will explore the conditions that lead to these phenomena and discuss the role they may play in a comprehensive approach to sustainability.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: NSM PHYS
Course Format: LectureGrading Mode:
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: PHYS214
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (MOBI-MN)(PHYS-MN)(PHYS)
Past Enrollment Probability: 90% or above

Last Updated on JUL-18-2024
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