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Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics

37 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1577666127
ISBN-10: 1577666127
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"This is a wonderful textbook that is pedagogically sound and provides a gentle introduction to statistical reasoning in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. The introduction of the microscopic approach to appreciate thermodynamics is noteworthy. The textbook will adequately serve both undergraduates and beginning graduate students." -- Dilip Asthagiri, Johns Hopkins University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 651 pages
  • Publisher: Waveland Pr Inc (December 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577666127
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577666127
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
My first exposure to stat mech was through Callen's book "Thermodynamics and Thermostatistics" in my junior year of college. I hated the book, and decided right then that I never ever wanted to become involved with condensed matter physics. However, I needed to know stat mech for my grad school qualifying exams, and not wanting to go back to Callen, I picked up Reif's book, following a professor's recommendation. What a difference. The clarity of presentation in this book is matched only by Landau's texts. You'll be amazed when doing the problems by just how much interesting physics you can do with just the fundamental relation of thermodynamics and the canonical formalism. Don't be turned off by the length of this book (>600 pages); the reason for this is not overly wordy descriptions (i.e, Griffiths), but simply huge amount of material presented (Griffiths would take over 1000 pages to chat about the same amount of material).
Perhaps the best praise I can give this book is that not only did it teach me stat mech, it really sparked my interest in the field of condensed matter physics, enough to contemplate my choosing this as a research topic in grad school.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By D. Smith on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Reif reads like thermodynamics is a brand new result and he has written the first giant paper on it. Not only does this book cover every area under the Sun, from the law of mass action to kinetic theory, but he develops each topic in a formal way, with logical consistency and that curious, gray-haired insight.

I continually look to Reif when more "advanced" books fumble explanations. With the firm conceptual grounding I get there, I can then intuit what other authors are trying to convey. How many astute readers of other thermodynamics textbooks have any idea when Boltzmann's canonical distribution can be used? Or who know the difference between this and Boltzmann's equation?

If you are an instructor, the illuminating end-of-chapter problems will be a boon. If you are a student, they will also be, yet less appreciated likely. No matter who you are, if you want to really know thermo and stat mech and are willing to _think_, then buy this book before some competing, flashy, colorized textbook drives it out of print.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Never mind that this book was published in the mid '60s (before I was even born); if you must choose one book to learn from, choose this one. It is so concise, so well thought out that I have yet to encounter a more instructive text on the subject. It contains a fabulous overview of statistical and thermal physics, and -even though the book contains quite a lot of material- I regret that the author (quote) "resisted the tempation to include applications of Onsager's reciprocity relations" and other irreversible phenomena. I used to teach physics and chemistry, and I must say that books of this quality just don't seem to be written these days. Given the inherent subtlety of its subject matter and the problems many students have grasping it I therefore strongly recommend using this book to study from.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David Milliern on December 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is all business. There are two disclaimers I must make before continuing, though: 1) You ABSOLUTELY MUST be fairly well versed in thermal physics and basic statistics before you can read this book without hitches and 2) In the intro, it is stated that this book is useful for advanced undergraduate course in thermodynamics, which is false. I cannot conceive of a class of undergraduates that possesses the macro-level knowledge of thermal physics necessary to handle this text, as it is one with an undeniable statical mechanical slant.

The aforementioned caveats aside, it is difficult for me to imagine a better text for a first-year graduate level course in thermodynamics. The book flows well. I found myself flying through the chapters. The problems seem difficult, but I think that has to do with the style of the questions, because, by the time you are half way through the book, the problems seem to get easier.

My single complaint about the book was that there is too much math in some areas where more words are needed. In particular, I think there needed to be more explanation given when discussing the differential equations associated with C-sub v and C-sub p. It got to the point where my professor was confused. This is possibly the only error in the book, as far as I am aware, but, then again, it might not have been an error. This book is, otherwise, a conceptually outstanding book.

What I found interesting about this book, since the thermal physics was represented from an entirely statistical perspective, is that I realized that the thermodynamics of the 19th century through the turn of the 20th century are philosophically reducible to the modern conception of thermodynamics from a wholly statistical point of view. I thought that this was very interesting from a philosophy of physics standpoint.

Great book!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By D. Krajnovich on January 17, 2009
Format: Unknown Binding
1. Since I didn't see this book in print on Amazon I searched on Google and found a place called Waveland Press that seems to have legitimate copies for sale: just search on ISBN 1-57766-612-7 and it should pop up.

2. My personal comments on the book
I am a physical chemist who managed to get through college and graduate school without taking a serious course in thermodynamics. For some reason I never warmed up to that subject and I avoided it like the plague. When I was at Berkeley they offered an option for first year grad students to "test out" of the mandatory thermodynamics course. By cramming from Callen I managed to pass that test and avoid learning my least favorite subject. While at Berkeley I took a 1-semester course on Statistical Mechanics taught from Pathria, and I didn't get much out of that either. I did, however, buy a copy of Reif's 1965 book while in grad school and used it as an occasional reference over the years, but without deep understanding. I promised one day to study it like a college student, and after 25 years I finally got around to it. I worked through the entire book, stopping at the end of each chapter to attempt most of the problems. I was very impressed with Reif's exposition and the quality of most of the problems. (The answers to selected problems at back of book are very cryptic and contain a few typos - I think ;) - but they were still extremely valuable to keep me on track.)

I was amused by Reif's comment in the Preface that "an author never finishes a book, he merely abandons it." While reading, I kept an eye out for what Reif might have been referring to when he wrote that comment. For sure, Ch. 14 did not work for me. I suspect that Reif would have done a major overhaul on Ch. 14 if he had done a second edition. Ch.
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