Poll on Thermodynamics/Statistical Physics books

Which of these books is the best?

  • Thermal Physics by Kittel/Kroemer

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Statistical Physics by Mandl

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    13
  • #1
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Hello!
There are so many Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics books that people suggest, that I don't know which one to use in my upcoming undergraduate course.
So, which one is your favorite?
Thanks in advance!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I own Pathria ( L 8.25 from when the pound was cheap in 1976 :smile: ) and learned a lot from D. ter Haar: Elements of thermostatistics, 1966 (!)
But then and here Stat Mech was a postgraduate item -- and it gave me a hard time so had to take it twice in successive years. For undergraduate engineers I would recommend Y Cengel, but for budding cosmologists it's unsuitable. So: what undergraduate course ?
 
  • #3
483
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I own Pathria ( L 8.25 from when the pound was cheap in 1976 :smile: ) and learned a lot from D. ter Haar: Elements of thermostatistics, 1966 (!)
But then and here Stat Mech was a postgraduate item -- and it gave me a hard time so had to take it twice in successive years. For undergraduate engineers I would recommend Y Cengel, but for budding cosmologists it's unsuitable. So: what undergraduate course ?
It's a third year Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics course for physicists. I want a book intended for theoretical physicists but one that also intuitively explains the concepts.
 
  • #4
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If you are beginning to learn thermodynamics you should go for Schroeder
 
  • #5
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Third year was postgrad in those days (Netherlands, 1973).
Both I mentioned are half a century old; in view of current developments like black hole thermodynamics and such I would expect you need something better to prepare your students for their future. I look forward to following this thread and hope Greg will get it back to a place where it gets more attention.
 
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  • #6
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If you are beginning to learn thermodynamics you should go for Schroeder
Why is that?
 
  • #7
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Some of the books in that list are pretty advanced and not proper for a first introduction to the subject.
For a first introduction, my suggestion is "Heat and Thermodynamics" by Dittman and Zemansky. This was my favorite textbook in my undergraduate years. I also chose Blundell's in the list above.
 
  • #8
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Some of the books in that list are pretty advanced and not proper for a first introduction to the subject.
For a first introduction, my suggestion is "Heat and Thermodynamics" by Dittman and Zemansky. This was my favorite textbook in my undergraduate years. I also chose Blundell's in the list above.
What makes Blundell's book better than the others in your opinion?
 
  • #9
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What makes Blundell's book better than the others in your opinion?
It covers a wide range of topics. The explanations are concise and clear.
 
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  • #10
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I used Kittel and Kroemer in undergrad and was confused by it. It turns out that many that I know, including the professor, agree that the first edition of Thermal Physics by Kittel (alone!) is superior to the rewriting by Kittel and Kroemer. So I bought the first edition (for around $5!) and like it a lot. It does not cover much beyond the basic but IMO teaches the basic really well and in a concise manner. The second edition adds more content and exercises and expands some old content but fails to remain organized and clear.
 
  • #11
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What makes Blundell's book better than the others in your opinion?
[Not directed at me, but] I really like Blundell's writing style: the text is clear and engaging, and the derivations elegant. The book is divided into many short chapters, each of which covers only a few key concepts, so I never felt overwhelmed. The problems are interesting and helpful for understanding the material. It was my first textbook in thermodynamics and statistical physics; it's a bit harder in difficulty than Schroeder.
 
  • #12
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[Not directed at me, but] I really like Blundell's writing style: the text is clear and engaging, and the derivations elegant. The book is divided into many short chapters, each of which covers only a few key concepts, so I never felt overwhelmed. The problems are interesting and helpful for understanding the material. It was my first textbook in thermodynamics and statistical physics; it's a bit harder in difficulty than Schroeder.
I have heard a criticism about it: It uses a lot of "hence" and "therefore" which leaves a lot of crucial steps in derivation unfinished. Wasn't this a problem for you?
 
  • #13
317
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I learned thermodynamics from a combination of Schroeder and Sears & Salinger. Schroeder for intuition and Sears & Salinger for meat. That isn't to say that there isn't some overlap. Each of these two books would be perfectly good for learning from by itself, especially with a good professor and a good learning ethic on the part of the student.
 
  • #14
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I have heard a criticism about it: It uses a lot of "hence" and "therefore" which leaves a lot of crucial steps in derivation unfinished. Wasn't this a problem for you?
It does use a lot of "hence" and "therefore"s, but these are just generic connectors in proofs, and I don't recall any omission of crucial steps. If you have an example I'd be glad to go through it with you.
 
  • #15
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It does use a lot of "hence" and "therefore"s, but these are just generic connectors in proofs, and I don't recall any omission of crucial steps. If you have an example I'd be glad to go through it with you.
The best Thermodynamics book I've seen (for many reasons) is Foundations to Engineering Thermodynamics by Moran et al. I highly recommend this book. Another book that is very good is Introduction to Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics by Smith and van Ness. For statistical thermo, I like McQuarrie or Hill.
 
  • #16
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It does use a lot of "hence" and "therefore"s, but these are just generic connectors in proofs, and I don't recall any omission of crucial steps. If you have an example I'd be glad to go through it with you.
Going through some derivations quickly, I found one that confuses me a bit. On page 58 the step before the boxed equation in the upper part of the page. While I understand it, It could be much clearerr
 
  • #17
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Going through some derivations quickly, I found one that confuses me a bit. On page 58 the step before the boxed equation in the upper part of the page. While I understand it, It could be much clearerr
I am looking at my library's e-version of this, and I don't see a boxed equation on page 58. Do you mean page 57, or 59, or ...
 
  • #18
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I am looking at my library's e-version of this, and I don't see a boxed equation on page 58. Do you mean page 57, or 59, or ...
In my version it's the derivation in section 6.1.2 (chapter on Pressure)
 
  • #19
For classical thermodynamics I recommend Part I of Herbert Callen's text (Thermodynamics and introduction to thermostatics). His axiomatic approach is very appealing to a physicist.

Once one finishes Callen's text, statistical mechanics can be studied from McQuarrie's text which is more oriented to chemists/materials scientists. This book is very detailed and is a very good reference if you plan to do research that applies statistical mechanics in chemistry/materials science.

For a very modern and concise treatment appealing to physicists I would recommend Kardar's text. Kardar's text is used in a first year grad course at MIT which is also attended by many ambitious undergrads. The problem sets in this text are very modern and shows how powerful statical mechanics in treating very diverse problems, also half of them are solved at the end of the text. Taking this class or alternatively watching the lectures online might help a lot in following the text.

You can watch Kardar's lectures here:
http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/...hanics-of-particles-fall-2013/video-lectures/

and also have a look at his freely available lecture notes which are almost the same as the textbook:
http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/...chanics-of-particles-fall-2013/lecture-notes/
 
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  • #20
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Do you guys/gals know which book is good for an undergraduate who aims to become a theoretical physicist?
 

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