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A Conceptual Guide to Thermodynamics
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About The Book

A Conceptual Guide to Thermodynamics By Bill Poirier – Thermodynamics is the science that describes the behavior of matter at the macroscopic scale, and how this arises from individual molecules. As such, it is a subject of profound practical and fundamental importance to many science and engineering fields. Despite extremely varied applications ranging from nanomotors to cosmology, the core concepts of thermodynamics such as equilibrium and entropy are the same across all disciplines.

A Conceptual Guide to Thermodynamics serves as a concise, conceptual and practical supplement to the major thermodynamics textbooks used in various fields. Presenting clear explanations of the core concepts,  the book aims to improve fundamental understanding of the material, as well as homework and exam performance.

Distinctive features include:

  • Terminology and Notation Key:  A universal translator that addresses the myriad of conventions, terminologies, and notations found across the major thermodynamics texts.
  • Content Maps:  Specific references to each major thermodynamic text by section and page number for each new concept that is introduced.
  • Helpful Hints and Don’t Try Its:  Numerous useful tips for solving problems, as well as warnings of common student pitfalls.
  • Unique Explanations: Conceptually clear, mathematically fairly simple, yet also sufficiently precise and rigorous.

A more extensive set of reference materials,  including older and newer editions of the major textbooks, as well as a number of less commonly used titles, is available online.

Undergraduate and graduate students of chemistry, physics, engineering, geosciences and biological sciences will benefit from this book, as will students preparing for graduate school entrance exams and MCATs.

Book Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Textbook Guide xv

0.1 List of Thermodynamics Textbooks by Discipline xv

0.2 Terminology and Notation Used in This Book xvi

0.3 Terminology and Notation Used in Textbooks xviii

1 About This Book 1

2 Philosophy of Thermodynamics 11

3 Thermodynamic States, Variables & Quantities 17

4 Zeroth Law & Thermodynamic Equilibrium 23

5 Molecular Energy, Internal Energy, & Temperature 33

6 Boltzmann Distribution & the Kinetic Model 41

7 First Law & Thermodynamic Change 49

8 Work, Heat, & Reversible Change 55

9 Partial Derivative Quantities 65

10 Entropy & Information Theory 77

11 Entropy & Ideal Gas 87

12 Second Law & Spontaneous Irreversible Change 97

13 Third Law, Carnot Cycle, & Absolute Entropy 107

14 Free Energy & Exergy 115

15 Chemical Potential, Fugacity, & Open Systems 123

16 Crazy Gay-Lussac’s Gas Expansion Emporium 131

17 Electronic Emporium: Free Online Shopping! 139

VII Appendices

Appendix A: Beards Gone Wild! Facial Hair & the Founding Fathers of Thermodynamics 143

Appendix B: Thermodynamics, Abolitionism, & Sha Na Na 147

Appendix C: Thermodynamics & the Science of Steampunk 149

Steampunk Gallery 151

Travel Try Its 153

Photo Credits 155

Index 159

About Author

Professor Bill Poirier, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Texas Tech University, USA – Professor Poirier is Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Joint Professor of Physics at Texas Tech University, where he has held research positions since 2001. His research is concerned with the development and application of new methods for performing accurate quantum dynamics calculations with unprecedented computational efficiency, to allow calculations for larger systems than ever before. This has wide ranging applications in areas including astrophysics, environmental, atmospheric and combustion chemistry, materials, and hydrogen storage.

Professor Poirier has extensive teaching experience at undergraduate and graduate level, teaching undergraduate courses in general chemistry and physical chemistry, and graduate courses in chemical kinetics, molecular spectroscopy and statistical mechanics.

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