Goucher College
Department of Physics

Statistical Physics and Thermodynamics
Fall 2012

Class Schedule
Homework Schedule
Statistical Physics Links
Final Projects



Dr. Sasha Dukan
Office: G10E
phone: 337-6323
e-mail: sdukan@goucher.edu
Office hours:
M 9:00-9:50 am, W 10:00-10:50am, F 11:00-11:50am and by appointment.

Please respect this schedule and make an appointment to see me at other times. 



1. Daniel V. Schroeder: An Introduction to Thermal Physics, Addison-Wesley, 2000.

Other Recommended Texts (available in the library and/or my office):

2. Kittel and Kroemer: Thermal Physics,  Freeman and Co. Publishing, 2nd edition.

3. F. Reif: Fundamentals of statistical and thermal physics, McGraw Hill

4. F. Reif: Statistical Physics, Berkley Physics Course-Volume 5

5. K. Huang, Introduction to Statistical Physics, Taylor and Francis, 2001


 Course Description

Statistical Physics and Thermodynamics is a course designed for physics majors and minors and upper-level chemistry majors who have taken Calculus I and II,  General Physics I and II and Modern Physics in the past. Statistical Physics (together with the Quantum Physics) is one of the fundamental disciplines on which modern physics research (in condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics, biophysics, physical chemistry, etc.) relies. This course is devoted to the discussions of some of the basic physical concepts and methods appropriate for a description of systems involving very many particles (gases, liquids, crystals). It is intended, in particular, to present thermodynamics and statistical physics from unified and modern point of view.



Lectures will be on  Tuesday and Thursday 9:55-11:10 am
Substantial amount of time will be devoted to the problem solving sessions and discussions. Students will be asked to present on various topics during a course of the semester. Occasionally, computer simulations will be used to aid in understanding of concepts.


 Instructional Methods

Students have an opportunity to learn in depth the undergraduate-level quantum mechanics from a variety of sources during the semester, including:

 Assigned textbook readings

 Classroom lectures and discussions

 Occasional computer demonstrations and simulations

 Homework assignments and GoucherLearn presentation of solutions

 In-class problem solving exercises

 Computational problems and projects

 Take-home tests

 Discussions with me outside of the class


Classroom time will be mostly centered around the discussions and student participation is required.


 Responsibilities of Students

In order to get the most out of this course:

 Attend each class, arrive on time and come prepared . Read an assigned sections of the textbook before coming to the class to familiarize yourself with notation and topic. Read the relevant section of the textbook with comprehension before attempting to solve homework problems.

 Participate in class by paying close attention to what is presented and offering suggestions or corrections when you think something that is presented is incorrect or confusing.

 Work on and try to complete all homework problems on time. You are encouraged to discuss problems with your peers but, if at all possible, complete these problems without assistance from anyone else. This way you will truly understand the problem and will be prepared for the exams.

 Read the homework solutions and use the opportunity to improve your homework grade by presenting a correct solution orally.

 Make your work neat and carefully organized. If I cant follow your solution then you will not receive a full credit.

 Come talk to me outside of the class frequently. Asking for help or hints with solving problems, or asking for clarification of the lectures or the textbook demonstrates your interest in the subject.



A homework assignment of about ten problems will be assigned every Tuesday and will be due at beginning of a class a next Thursday. All the work has to be done analytically except for the problems marked with words use Maple. Otherwise, Maple/Mathematica or any symbolic/numerical software package can be used only to check a solution . No late homework will be accepted.  You are encouraged to work on homework assignments with other students, but this does not mean distributing work load or copying. Main purpose of a homework is to give you practice in solving problems and prepare you for exams. Solving problems is the most important part of a learning process in this course. Students can improve a homework grade, within one week after the homework solutions have been posted, by demonstrating an understanding of a correct solution on a whiteboard in my office.



There will be three take-home exams. Tentative dates which may be adjusted according to rate at which material is being covered are listed in the class schedule. Exam are handed out on Thursday and will be due on Tuesday next week. You are allowed to use textbook, class-notes and homework solutions only . You are not allowed to use any other material or discuss exams with anyone except your instructor. I reserve the right to discuss your exam with you to examine your understanding of solved problems.


 Final Project

Your final project should illustrate  experimental applications of the concepts discussed in lecture and/or  further developments of theoretical ideas introduced. Suggested topics are:

Suggested Topic

Suggested Initial Reference

Entropy and Time (Direction of Time)

American Journal of Physics,  December 1999

Stars and Statistical Physics

American Journal of Physics,  December 1999


Brownian Motion and Applications

American Journal of Physics,  December 1999
Physics Today, February 1996 or on the Nucleus at


Experimental Studies of Bose-Einstein Condensation

Phys. Today, December 1999 (review issue), Phys. Today 64, 7, 16 (2011)Phys. Today 57, 10, 74 (2004), Phys. Today 56, 6, 62 (2003)
Serway, Modern Physics, Chapter 10

Real Heat Engines and Real Refrigerators

Textbook, Chapter 4

Financial Market and Statistical Physics

Bouchand, Theory of Financial Risk and Derivative Pricing: From Statistical Physics to Risk Management, Cambridge Press, 2003


Statistical Physics in Biology

Blomberg, Physics of Life

Nelson, Biological Physics

If you would like to pick you own topic you must get my approval before starting a project. Projects should utilize literature and web-based research. I expect  20 min long Power Point  presentations. 



Your grade will be based upon exams, homework and presentation. Grade breakdown is as follows:

 Homework:                                    30%

 Three exams:                   30%

 Presentation:                                  15%   

 Final exams: 25%    


The grade distribution will be as follows:

 Numerical grade larger than 90.1% is A

 numerical grade between 87.1% and 90% is A-

 numerical grade between 83.1% and 87% is B+

 numerical grade between 73.1% and 83% is B

 numerical grade between 70.1% and 73% is B-

 numerical grade between 67.1% and 70% is C+

 numerical grade between 63.1% and 67% is C

 numerical grade between 60.1% and 63% is C-

 numerical grade between 57.1% and 60% is D+

 numerical grade between  53.1% and 57% is D

 numerical grade between  50.1% and 53% is D-

 numerical grade below 50% is F



 Academic Ethics

All students are bound by the standards of the Academic Honor Code, found at