Theoretical Physics 5 Thermodynamics by Nolting
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Theoretical Physics 5 Thermodynamics by Nolting

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Theoretical Physics Contents

Basic Concepts

  • Thermodynamic Systems
  • State, Equilibrium 
  • The Concept of Temperature
  • Equations of State
  • Work
  • Exercises
  • Self-Examination Questions 

Laws of Thermodynamics

  • First Law of Thermodynamics, Internal Energy
  • Heat Capacities 
  • Adiabatic, Isotherms
  • Second Law of Thermodynamics
  • Carnot Cycle
  • Absolute, Thermodynamic Temperature Scale
  • Entropy as State Quantity
  • Simple Conclusions from the Thermodynamic Laws
  • Exercises 
  • Self-Examination Questions

Thermodynamic Potentials

  • ‘Natural’ State Variables
  • Legendre Transformation 
  • Homogeneity Relations
  • The Thermodynamic Potentials of the Ideal Gas
  • The entropy of Mixing
  • Joule-Thomson Effect 
  • Equilibrium Conditions
  • The Third Law of Thermodynamics (Nernst’s Heat Theorem)
  • Exercises
  • Self-Examination Questions

Phases, Phase Transitions

  • Phases
  • Phase Transitions
  • Exercises
  • Self-Examination Questions

Preface to Theoretical Physics 5 

The main goal of the present volume 5 (Thermodynamics) is exactly the same as that of the total course on Theoretical Physics. It is thought to be accompanying textbook material for the study of university-level physics.

It is aimed to impart, in a compact form, the most important skills of theoretical physics which can be used as the basis for handling more sophisticated topics and problems in the advanced study of physics as well as in the subsequent physics research.

It is presented in such a way that it enables self-study without the need for a demanding and laborious reference to secondary literature.

For the understanding of the text, it is only presumed that the reader has a good grasp of what has been elaborated in the preceding volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Mathematical interludes are always presented in a compact and functional form and practiced when they appear indispensable for the further development of the theory. Such mathematical insertions, though, are becoming of course decreasingly necessary with the increasing volume number.

For the whole text, it holds that I had to focus on the essentials, presenting them in a detailed and elaborate form, sometimes consciously sacrificing certain elegance. It goes without saying that, after the basic course, secondary literature is needed to deepen the understanding of physics and mathematics.

Thermodynamics belongs to the classical theories but would thematically be better off as a prelude to Statistical Mechanics. The latter can be offered, however, as modern, nonclassical theory (Quantum Statistics) only at a later stage of the study, namely, after we have dealt with the Quantum Mechanics (volumes 6 and 7).

The classical phenomenological Thermodynamics takes its concept formation directly from the experiment and does therefore not need, in contrast to the Quantum Statistics, any quantum-mechanical element.

As a rule, it is a module of the bachelor program in physics and has, therefore, to be integrated into the first (classical) part of this course on theoretical physics. The exact position of Thermodynamics in such a course is, however, not unique.

It can also be offered before the Electrodynamics. Thermodynamics is, as a science of heat, a classical phenomenological theory and for the understanding of which, physical terms like temperature and heat have to be introduced.

These quantities are reasonably definable only for macroscopic many-particle systems being completely meaningless for a single particle.

The full theory of Thermodynamics is based on a few fundamental theorems or laws, which have to be considered here as theoretically non-provable but experimentally unrefuted empirical facts. As to these theorems, as well as to the terms temperature and heat, we have to content ourselves, in the framework of thermodynamics, to a certain degree, with an intuitive self-understanding.

Systematic reasoning is possible only with Statistical Mechanics (Volume 8) which is thus to be considered as complementary to thermodynamics.

It is consistent with, at least in its version as Quantum Statistics, the principles of quantum mechanics which will be developed in volumes 6 and 7.

This volume on Thermodynamics arose from lectures I gave at the German universities in Muenster, Wuerzburg, and Berlin. The animating interest of the students in my lecture notes has induced me to prepare the text with special care.

The present one, as well as the other volumes, are thought to be the textbook material for the study of basic physics, primarily intended for the students rather than for the teachers.

I am thankful to the Springer company, especially to Dr. Th. Schneider, for accepting and supporting the concept of my proposal. The collaboration was always delightful and very professional.

A decisive contribution to the book was provided by Prof. Dr. A. Ramakanth from the Kakatiya University of Warangal (India). He deserves a lot of thanks!

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