Statistical Mechanics: A Concise Introduction for Chemists
B. Widom | 2002-05-06 00:00:00 | Cambridge University Press | 180 | Physical Chemistry
This is an introduction to statistical mechanics, intended to be used either in an undergraduate physical chemistry course or by beginning graduate students with little undergraduate background in the subject. It assumes familiarity with thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, the kinetic theory of gases, quantum mechanics and spectroscopy, at the level at which these subjects are normally treated in undergraduate physical chemistry. Highly illustrated with numerous exercises and worked solutions, it provides a concise, up-to-date treatise of statistical mechanics and is ideally suited to use in one semester courses.
As suggested by the tittle, the book is concise but, nevertheless, very complete, clear and rigorous. In fact, I found it much clearer than many other lenghty books on this difficult subject.
Widom does a fantastic job at articulating both the impact of statistical thinking on the real world and the complexities of mathematics required to infer knowledge about chemical systems. This book has everything a chemist needs to know about statistical mechanics, without watering down the subject. I read this book four years after taking a formal statistical mechanics course, and I understand it better now than I did in the course! I wish this book was provided as a supplement to my formal course work.
While looking for a suitable textbook for a one-semester course on Statistical Mechanics, I found this little gem by Prof. Widom, a recognized authority in the field. It was a pleasure to read, clear, all the classical topics well explained, very understandable.
Several excellent textbook on the subject are available, but none conveys so much in so little space (THE SPACE you have available in an undergraduate lecture course), yet with no compromise on rigour or clarity. At the beginning, I was a little uneasy by the choice of skipping a discussion of the (difficult) foundations, jumping directly to the Boltzmann distribution as a starting point. Now I totally agree with it, it is the best for a first introduction, and if time is left (rarely) one can profitably add a discussion on fundations at the end of the course.
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