Recommendation of textbook for self-study of thermodynamics

In summary, the conversation discusses the topic of self-studying thermodynamics for the physics GRE, and the comparison of different textbooks. The individual has read through the first 3 chapters of Reif and finds it lacking in mathematical rigor. They mention their preference for Griffiths' books and ask if there are any thermodynamics books similar to his. Another person suggests "Thermal Physics" by Ralf Baierlein and compares its teaching style to Griffiths. Another recommendation is Tolman's "The Principles of Statistical Mechanics", which the individual found to be comprehensible compared to other textbooks.
  • #1
ehrenfest
2,020
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.
 
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  • #2
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.
 
  • #3
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.
 

Related to Recommendation of textbook for self-study of thermodynamics

1. What is the best textbook for self-study of thermodynamics?

The best textbook for self-study of thermodynamics will depend on your learning style and level of understanding. Some popular options include "Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics" by Michael J. Moran, "Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach" by Yunus A. Cengel, and "Introduction to Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics" by J.M. Smith.

2. Are there any online resources for self-study of thermodynamics?

Yes, there are plenty of online resources available for self-study of thermodynamics. Some popular options include Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare, and Coursera. You can also find lecture notes, practice problems, and video tutorials on various thermodynamics topics.

3. Is it necessary to have a background in physics to study thermodynamics?

While a background in physics can certainly help with understanding thermodynamics concepts, it is not necessary. A basic understanding of mathematical concepts such as calculus and algebra is usually sufficient for self-studying thermodynamics.

4. How can I make the most out of self-studying thermodynamics?

To make the most out of self-studying thermodynamics, it is important to set a schedule and stick to it. Start with the fundamentals and build a strong foundation before moving on to more complex topics. It is also helpful to solve practice problems and seek help from online resources or a tutor if needed.

5. Can I use a textbook from a different edition for self-study of thermodynamics?

In most cases, using a textbook from a different edition should not significantly impact your understanding of thermodynamics concepts. However, it is always best to use the latest edition of a textbook to ensure you have access to updated information and resources.

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