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This is by far THE BEST textbook on the subject. As many people say, thermodynamics is a subject that one has to learn at least three times. I can easily understand the very negative review from the undergraduate student at Berkely. The subject itself is hard, and simply is not for everyone, not for the first run at least. I say this from experience. I earned a Ph.D. degree over ten years ago, and took courses on thermodynamics at both undergraduate and graduate levels. I didn't understand the subject at all, and didn't find much use in my thesis work. However, something about the subject has kept me going back to it ever since. I now own about 40 books on the subject, and use the ideas almost daily in my research. I discovered Kittel-Kroemer only recently, and have found it absolutely great. The book took an unconventional approach, as the authors explained well in the Preface and the Introduction. This approach makes the central concept, the entropy, as well as the derived ideas, the temperature, the chemical potential and the Boltzmann factor, so clear that one has to wonder why they are obscure in many other books. I find this approach the most direct and satisfying. The book contains a wonderful collection of examples. The book is written with authority and great care. It is beautifully produced, and a joy to read. (My copy hasn't fall apart, and doesn't look it ever will!) If there is a new edition, I'd like to see more links to thermodybnamics in practice. Some rudimentary description of measurements of basic quantities will further enhance the book. A few device examples, in addition to the battery, will help to make the connection. The beautiful logic structure notwithstanding, thermodyanmics is an experimental sceince. Some quantities are easy to calculate, others are easy to measure.Read more ›
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As a textbook for an undergraduate course on thermal physics, this offering is quite poor. The authors lack the gift of clearly communicating their (obviously quite good) understanding of thermal physics; the writing, particularly when explaining what should be simple concepts, is dense and opaque. Figures often function as nothing more than page-fillers, and do not serve to clarify the text. Important results are scattered, in many cases not even set off from the main text with any sort of visual cue. The problems for each section (and the text itself) will frequently bring in detailed information from other areas of physics or chemistry without making any attempt to explain its relation to the subject at hand. The authors often use the problems as extensions to the text, adding a half page of extraneous commentary after asking a question that takes a single line to state. As another reviewer remarked, the problems in general can take an hour to interpret and five minutes to solve. Overall, the book is very wordy when it doesn't need to be, confusing, and difficult to use.
If you are an undergraduate taking a first class in thermal physics, it will be a tremendous chore to learn it from this book.
After so many years in print, and being used by so many students, this book has become a classic in undergraduate statistical mechanics. It is indeed a fine book, and one that will no doubt remain as a standard text in statistical mechanics in years to come. The authors motivate the subject well, and they at all times explain the physics behind the mathematics. So often in textbooks, even at the undergraduate level, the physical intuition gets lost behind the mathematical formalism. Although the book is addressed to an audience of undergraduate physics majors, it could be read profitably by those in other fields, particularly in the biological sciences.
Some of the parts I found particularly well-writtten include the discussions on: 1. The sharpness of the multiplicity function and its connection with the stability of physical properties. 2. The zipper problem as a model of the unwinding of the DNA molecule ( an assigned problem). 3. The ascent of sap in trees (an assigned problem). 4. Bose-Einstein distribution function and the Einstein condensation temperature. Given the exciting developments in this area, this discussion is particularly enlightening. 5. Quasiparticles and superfluidity. This is a nice job here, given the level of the text. 6. The Landau theory of phase transitions. 7. Semiconductor statistics. 8. The Boltzmann transport equation. Because of its immense importance, it is great that the authors have chosen to include a discussion of this in a book at this level. The treatment is very understandable and prepares the reader for more advanced reading on the subject. 9. The heat conduction equation. The diffusive solutions of the equation are discussed in terms of the time development of a temperature pulse, giving the reader a first glimpse of the "Green's function" methods.
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I remember when I took this couse as an undergraduate it was very challenging to develop an "intuitive feel" for the subject material and the book seemed to make matters worse. Several years later and after a little mathematical "seasoning", I have revisited Kittel's Thermal Physics and now realize how well the material is presented. However, I am forced to give the book 3 stars because I remember how EVERY textbook in the class(~15 students) fell apart before the semester ended. I remember paying nearly $80 for the book at the time- totally unacceptable for a book in this price range. I was actually hoping to find an inexpensive used copy to replace my original, but after reading the reviews, it appears that the binding problem has not been corrected yet. So, I guess I'll have to tolerate keeping the pages intact as I thumb through the book.
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