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Want to learn more about phase transitions

  1. Aug 29, 2012 #1
    I realized yesterday that I don't know nearly as much as I would like about the physics of phase transitions. How do bubbles form when water boils? How do condensation nuclei work? I had a whole host of questions that I didn't feel adequately able to answer.

    Can anyone recommend a good physical chemistry (or just physics if that's better) text that describes in detail the physics of phase transitions?

    PS I'm not afraid of thermodynamics
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2012 #2
    try "Thermodynamics and an Introduction to Thermostatistics". It is a general thermodynamics book with a good introduction to phase transitions.

    If that's too basic, then the grad level "Elements of Phase Transitions and Critical Phenomena" is good.

    However, the 2nd book is highly theoretical and is mostly about *how to calculate stuff*.
  4. Aug 29, 2012 #3
    I had a look at both texts, and they aren't what I'm really looking for. I'm aiming for a qualitative understanding of phase transitions.

    I'll give you an example: when a liquid boils, large bubbles form spontaneously from the bulk of the liquid. When the liquid is below boiling temperature, are there no bubbles being formed? Or are there bubbles formed, but they stay too small to see?

    I have a whole host of questions like these, and rather than ask them individually I'd like to read something so I can get acquainted with the basic theory. I'm not looking for anything too advanced or quantitative.
  5. Aug 29, 2012 #4
    Try this book.


    It takes a look at phase transitions in things like biochemistry (abiotic evolution, virus dynamics, critical genome size), cell biology (cells, gene networks, cancer), ecology (disease modeling, green-desert transitions), sociology (traffic) and finance (stock market crashes).

    Here's another book:


    Its a thermodynamics book, but it has a strong section on phase transitions in polymers, liquid crystals, etc. and 2 sections on phase transitions.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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