Statistical Physics: A Prelude and Fugue for Engineers by Roberto Piazza

By Roberto Piazza

This ebook, presents a common advent to the guidelines and strategies of statistical mechanics with the primary goal of assembly the desires of Master’s scholars in chemical, mechanical, and fabrics technological know-how engineering. wide introductory info is gifted on many basic physics subject matters within which scholars in engineering are inadequately educated, starting from the Hamiltonian formula of classical mechanics to easy quantum mechanics, electromagnetic fields in topic, intermolecular forces, and delivery phenomena. considering engineers will be capable of follow actual innovations, the e-book additionally specializes in the sensible functions of statistical physics to fabric technology and to state of the art applied sciences, with short yet informative sections on, for instance, interfacial houses, disperse platforms, nucleation, magnetic fabrics, superfluidity, and ultralow temperature applied sciences. The ebook adopts a graded method of studying, the outlet 4 basic-level chapters being by means of complicated “starred” sections within which specified subject matters are mentioned. Its rather casual kind, together with using musical metaphors to steer the reader during the textual content, will relief self-learning.

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Example text

Most naturalists, in disagreement with physicists, believed that biological stuff possessed a kind of “spirit of life” that made it superior to inanimate objects, and Brownian motion, as we shall call the effect observed by Brown, could have been a direct manifestation of this elusive “spirit”. But Brown, who was no physicist, but no fool either, carefully avoided jumping to this conclusion. And he was right, since it was easy for him to show that even specks of humble and totally inanimate dust displayed the same frantic behavior.

36 1 Prelude: playing by ear many evidences of our daily experience, it is time to have a first look to the microscopic world. Which means meeting a Scottish botanist, Robert Brown. 35 So, let’s peep through the shutters of a lab in London, and watch Brown while he is observing under the microscope some grains of pollen suspended in water. The trouble is that these wretched specks are not keen at all to keep still under observation, but rather seem to suffer from a kind of Saint Vitus’ dance, stirring and jiggling madly about before poor Robert’s eyes.

Einstein’s explanation of Brownian motion, however, not only necessarily assumes the existence of atoms, but also provides us with a way to estimate a quantity of primary importance for statistical physics, the Avogadro number. The only other assumption made by Einstein is that atoms and molecules are in perpetual motion too, with a kinetic energy proportional to temperature that we shall call the thermal energy. Hence, a colloidal particle immersed in a fluid is unceasingly bombarded by these shooting nano-bullets that transfer a little of their own energy to it, so that, in a very short time, the kinetic energy of the particle will also be equal to thermal energy (neither more, otherwise the particle would give it back to the molecules, nor less, because then it would go on absorbing energy).

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