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Statistical Thermo?

  1. Aug 4, 2008 #1
    I'm planning on taking a statistical thermodynamics grad course this Fall. Being an ME Im very familiar with classical thermo but what other topics should I be keen on? Any specific field of mathematics like abstract alg(only math I have not taken) I should be worried about?

    Also, Im planning on specializing in fuel cell development or solar thermolic processes, I cant decide. Any insight on this decision and should I plan on taking a course in electrochemistry next semester as well? I'm going to a small school(read not high ranked) and they will let me take just about anything related to my field.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2008 #2
    advanced calculus and statistics, Knowing quantum would help also
  4. Aug 5, 2008 #3
    Eh, Iv already taken all levels of those courses and know them fairly well. I do need to learn more about quantum though. Should I be looking at relative or non-relative quantum?
  5. Aug 5, 2008 #4
    non-relavistic qm, don't worry about qm to much it only plays a small role in stat mech. Know your thermodynamics relationships really well.
  6. Aug 5, 2008 #5
    Totally different.

    But it doesn't matter, because the approach is fairly simple. All you have to be good at is algebra, calculus, some statistics (like one quarter's worth), thermo will help, and some good hand-waving skills are necessary. Most of the derivations just leave me going "Wait, what just happened?"

    Knowing 1 quarter of QM is also good.

    Besides that you'll be fine.

    Do you know what book you'll be using?
  7. Aug 5, 2008 #6
    Thanks for the advice. No, I dont know the text yet. But the professor that teaches it is fricken awesome. The course description says that a large part of the class is a review of thermodynamics. Is thermodynamics in physics really that different from thermo for engineers? I mean, the four laws are the four laws right?
  8. Aug 5, 2008 #7


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    thermodynamics is the same for everyone, but statistical thermodynamics is a whole different game. It can reduce to regular thermo, but it plays at a much, much lower level.
  9. Aug 5, 2008 #8
    No, it is definitely NOT the same for everyone.

    Thermo for engineers is drastically different than thermo for physics. Engineering thermo doesn't go into theory as much, but it's designed so that you can actually use it in a real setting. Physics thermodynamics is a joke in that regard, because you assume everything is perfect essentially.
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