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Courses Any advice for doing well in thermo?

Hello.

I'm a Senior in high school taking a 200-level thermodynamics course at a local university, and it's turned out to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. I had already taken and done well in quite a few college courses (including double-listed 400/500-level PDEs last year), so I didn't think the difficulty would be an issue. Of course, that's turned out to be completely wrong.

I'm completely horrid at arithmetic and rote memorization, which unfortunately seem to be required for a lot of the problems. I've tried doing lots of exercises to improve my ability in this respect, but it isn't helping. Am I simply not cut out to be a physicist? Are there any resources you might recommend that take a more conceptual approach to the subject?
 

phinds

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Hey, welcome to the forum. I don't have any answers for you. I generally made good grades in college (graduated with honors) but thermo was the course I had the most trouble with. It seems that some of us just aren't cut out to learn thermo so do your best and don't let it get you down. Good luck
 

atyy

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I'm completely horrid at arithmetic and rote memorization, which unfortunately seem to be required for a lot of the problems.
Well, just use a calculator for the arithmetic. I've never had a thermodynamics course which requires much rote memorization - what sort of things do you have to memorize?

Classical thermodynamics is one of the hardest courses, but extremely beautiful as coherent theoretical structure, like relativity. Many physics courses approach it through statistical mechanics, which I find ugly. Some books I like that approach it classically are those by Castellan, Pippard, and Kardar.
 
Last edited:

jtbell

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Which book are you using? Thermo can be taught using different emphases or conceptual approaches: pure classical thermo versus a statistical-mechanics based approach versus thermo for engineers...
 

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