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PH4211: Statistical Mechanics

“ Ludwig Boltzmann, who spent much of his life studying Statistical Mechanics, died in 1906, by his own hand. Paul Ehrenfest, carrying on the work, died similarly in 1933. Now it is our turn to study Statistical Mechanics. Perhaps it will be wise to approach the subject cautiously.”

in States of Matter, by David. L. Goodstein, 1975, Dover N.Y.

This is an advanced level course on Statistical and Thermal Physics; it builds on the material learned by students in their first three years. The course starts with a review of the formal structure of Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics considered from a unified viewpoint. There is a brief revision of non-interacting systems. Following this the emphasis is on interacting systems. First weakly interacting systems are considered, where the interest is in seeing how such interactions cause small deviations from the non-interacting case. Following this, systems are examined where interactions lead to drastic changes: namely phase transitions. A number of specific examples is considered and these are unified within the Landau theory of phase transitions. The final section of the course considers non-equilibrium systems and the way these evolve towards equilibrium. Here fluctuations play a vital role, understood in the context of Onsager's Regression Hypothesis, and formalised in the Fluctuation-Dissipation theorem.

2022 - The course runs on Tuesdays from 14:00 to 17:00 at Royal Holloway in Room T125 in the Tolansky building of the Physics department. The course commences on Tuesday 18th January.

Link to the MS Teams channel

Course Information

Revision Class 2022
  • Class Slide

    Course Notes The the material is now available in book form - see Book List above. But a very drafty draft version of Edition 2 is available here.

    Interesting papers etc.

    Problem Assignments and Solutions

    Past Examination Papers

    This page is still under construction; indeed it will continue so until the course is no longer taught!

    Brian Cowan - E-mail: B.Cowan@rhul.ac.uk