How do you get good at statistical physics?

In summary, the conversation is about a second year physics student who is struggling with their exams, particularly in the subject of statistical mechanics. They express frustration with the difficulty of the textbook and lack of online resources. They seek advice on how to improve in the subject and question why textbooks often do not provide answers to problem sets. One reply suggests practicing and seeking help from those who are knowledgeable in the subject.
  • #1
Crosshash
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0
Hello there, I'm a second year physics student who like most, has exams around the start of the next year and as such, have started revising for my exams.

The term has introduced new physics I wasn't initially familiar with such as Quantum mechanics and advanced differential calculus.

Another subject was statistical mechanics and so far I'm completely dumbfounded with this subject.

Typically, the process of performing well in exams is to attend lectures, do the homework and study. Statistical mechanics is the first subject I've encountered which I'm starting to deem "unstudy-able".

The book for the course is "Statistical Mechanics" by "Kerson Huang". The lecturer warned me the book was "very difficult" which after downloading an entire series of SP books seems to be a running trend. This is also coupled with the frustration of having a textbook which costs upwards of around £100 - ignoring the fact you can pirate it.

Also, from what I've seen, there are no online resources I've found which are incapable of alienating a novice readership such as myself.

So, unless there's a book which is as useful and easy to read as "Quantum Mechanics Demystified" for example, how exactly does one get good at Statistical physics?

Thank you

ps: what's up with textbooks not providing answers to the problem sets anyway?
 
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  • #2
Well, Kerson Huang's text is unreadable.

Try Eric Poisson's http://www.physics.uoguelph.ca/poisson/research/notes.html for something introductory, or Mehran Kardar's http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/8-333Fall-2007/CourseHome/index.htm for something more advanced.
 
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  • #3
atyy said:
Well, Kerson Huang's text is unreadable.

Try Eric Poisson's http://www.physics.uoguelph.ca/poisson/research/notes.html for something introductory, or Mehran Kardar's http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/8-333Fall-2007/CourseHome/index.htm for something more advanced.

Thank you for the reply. I'll give these a read over christmas and see how things go.

I'll still check this thread to see if somebody else can contribute.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #4
Crosshash said:
Hello there, I'm a second year physics student who like most, has exams around the start of the next year and as such, have started revising for my exams.

The term has introduced new physics I wasn't initially familiar with such as Quantum mechanics and advanced differential calculus.

Another subject was statistical mechanics and so far I'm completely dumbfounded with this subject.

Typically, the process of performing well in exams is to attend lectures, do the homework and study. Statistical mechanics is the first subject I've encountered which I'm starting to deem "unstudy-able".

The book for the course is "Statistical Mechanics" by "Kerson Huang". The lecturer warned me the book was "very difficult" which after downloading an entire series of SP books seems to be a running trend. This is also coupled with the frustration of having a textbook which costs upwards of around £100 - ignoring the fact you can pirate it.

Also, from what I've seen, there are no online resources I've found which are incapable of alienating a novice readership such as myself.

So, unless there's a book which is as useful and easy to read as "Quantum Mechanics Demystified" for example, how exactly does one get good at Statistical physics?

Thank you

ps: what's up with textbooks not providing answers to the problem sets anyway?

The answer to your question is rather bland but true. You get good at thermodynamics the same way you get good at anything else in life: you practice like there's no tomorrow. You read about it as much as you can, solve as many problems as you can, and ask as many questions as you can to people who already know the subject. Follow that basic method and nothing is unachievable, unless the laws of physics explicitly prevent its achievement!
 

Related to How do you get good at statistical physics?

1. What is statistical physics?

Statistical physics is a branch of physics that uses statistical methods and probability theory to study the behavior of large systems of particles.

2. What are the key concepts in statistical physics?

The key concepts in statistical physics include entropy, temperature, energy, and the laws of thermodynamics. These concepts help us understand the behavior of macroscopic systems, such as gases, liquids, and solids.

3. How do I improve my understanding of statistical physics?

To improve your understanding of statistical physics, it is important to have a strong foundation in mathematics and physics. Additionally, reading textbooks and articles on the subject, practicing problem-solving, and attending lectures or seminars can also help improve your understanding.

4. What are some applications of statistical physics?

Statistical physics has a wide range of applications in various fields, including material science, astrophysics, biophysics, and engineering. Some specific applications include studying phase transitions, modeling complex systems, and understanding the behavior of quantum systems.

5. How can I use statistical physics in my research?

If you are interested in using statistical physics in your research, it is important to first identify the specific area of study where it can be applied. Then, you can use statistical methods to analyze data, develop models, and make predictions about the behavior of the system you are studying.

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