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Recommendation of textbook for self-study of thermodynamics

  1. Feb 17, 2008 #1
    I want to know what book to use to self-study thermodynamics. I am preparing for the physics GRE. I have Reif and I read through the first 3 chapters.

    It is not the most amazing exposition I have ever read, but I think the problem is that I just have to get used to all of the hand-waving type arguments of statistical mechanics. Out of all the physics I have studied, this book is probably the least mathematically rigorous. Equalities are replaced by approximately equals signs everywhere and everything is "order of magnitude". Are all introductory thermodynamics books like this? I am a huge fan of Griffiths' EM and QM books as Griffiths is so precise and the system that he builds is so perfectly consistent and rigorous. But I think maybe it is just the nature of the material that allows Griffiths to write so precisely and build a system that is so consistent. Are there any stat mech books like Griffiths or should I just stick with Reif?

    I am going into theoretical physics so I basically just need to learn this for the GRE.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2008 #2


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    You might want to look into "Thermal Physics" by Ralf Baierlein (sp).

    The book has several handwaving arguments to be sure, but it was not as bad as what you were describing. I am also a huge fan of Griffith's and I think Baierlein also explains and teachs in a way very similar to Griffith's. I highly recommend it.
  4. Feb 18, 2008 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    I highly recommend Tolman's "The Principles of Statistical Mechanics". We used Reif in grad school (hated it) and Sears & Salinger in undergrad (also hated it). Tolman made the subject comprehensible for me.
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