Essentials of Physical Chemistry by Don Shilladya
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Essentials of Physical Chemistry by Don Shilladya

PREFACE to Essentials of Physical Chemistry by Don Shilladya:

This text is really two books in one, perhaps three. The first 9 chapters are intended to meet the new American Chemical Society requirement of one semester of physical chemistry.

By good fortune, I have taught such a course five times at Virginia Commonwealth University with special emphasis on ways to make important material understandable to students who may only have had one semester of calculus.

This sequence has also been taught once as an experiment at Randolph Macon College using McQuarrie’s Quantum Chemistry, Second Edition, with a smaller class as a second semester elective.

Key topics are included in thermodynamics and kinetics with mathematics that has been tuned to a level that just slightly stretches the student’s math ability.

These students are used to memorizing vast amounts of material in biology and organic chemistry so we ‘‘prime the pump’’ of their intellect by encouraging memorization of key topics such as the critical point of a van der Waals gas, the Michaelis–Menten equation, and the entropy of mixing.

Along the way, we introduce problems related to forensic chemistry as well as a mixture of practical units likely to be encountered in health sciences. Sample tests are included in the text so students can see what is expected of them.

The tests are intended to measure knowledge of the formulas and how to use them, as well as to display successful memorization=learning of key concepts.

Spectroscopy is limited in a one semester course; we have tried to use the relatively simple Bohr atom for examples of orbital screening and x-ray emission analysis to get as much meaning from the simple formula as possible.

The treatment of chemical kinetics is split into a fundamental Chapter 7 and a more advanced Chapter 8 so that if time is running out in a one semester course, Chapter 8 can be skipped and delayed until the beginning of an elective second semester.

A one semester sequence might be ‘‘Introduction: Mathematics and Physics Review,’’ Chapters 1 through 7 and 9 with an elective second semester as Chapters 8, 10 through 15 with parts of 16, 17, 18, or 19.

I think it is important to keep the material of an optional second semester visible in the same text with many pictures of successful scientists to coax students into further study.

Actually, taking just one semester of physical chemistry really limits a student for further study. I certainly do not agree with the ACS Committee on Professional Training in this matter.

Physical chemistry is the axis of science where all the sciences come together along with mathematical models that have been developed over the past 200 years.

If perchance my colleagues in physical chemistry have developed a reputation for being difficult, I call on them to make physical chemistry ‘‘fun’’ to train students in this central science.

I know from teaching two semesters of physical chemistry in an intensive nine-week ‘‘Summer P. Chem.’’ course for over 30 years that by selecting key topics, explaining them well, and teaching the necessary mathematics leads to great morale in a class while serious learning is going on!

I often receive messages from students who complete this course saying they are using P. Chem. notes in upper level courses in biochemistry and inorganic chemistry.

Topic selection is also a result of my teaching physical chemistry laboratory for many years using successive editions of the Shoemaker, Garland, and Nibler text; thus, material here should form a foundation for that course as well.

This text is being completed just a week before the beginning of another nine-week ‘‘Summer P. Chem.’’ course, and it must be considered in view of a series of fast, intense lectures.

As usual, there will be students in this class with only one semester of calculus (having never dealt with an integral) and biology majors who are pre-medical students as well as forensic science majors who are taking almost as much chemistry as the formally designated chemistry majors.

They all will have recently passed organic chemistry, but probably not have used much mathematics since a prior year in freshman chemistry. 

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