Statistical Mechanics

Sitabhra Sinha

A theory is the more impressive the greater the simplicity of its premises, the more different kinds of things it relates, and the more extended its area of applicability. Therefore the deep impression that classical thermodynamics made upon me. It is the only physical theory of universal content which I am convinced will never be overthrown, within the framework of applicability of its basic concepts. - Albert Einstein

Class Schedule: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday (9:30-11:00)

23/1/06: Introduction

25/1/06: Discrete Probability Distributions

30/1/06: Continuous Probability Distributions

1/2/06: Central Limit Theorem

3/2/06: Review of thermodynamics: entropy and temperature

20/2/06: Information Theory and Entropy: Shannon Entropy and Mutual Information, Statistical Mechanics of Cellular Automata

22/2/06: Canonical Ensemble and Boltzmann distribution

24/2/06: Application of Canonical Ensemble concepts: Ideal Gas

27/2/06: Application of Canonical Ensemble concepts: Blackbody Thermal Radition, Electrical Johnson Noise

1/3/06: Grand Canonical Ensemble: Chemical Potential


Assignment 1 (due 20/2/06)

Assignment 2 (due 15/3/06)

Essential web resources for statistical mechanics:
Winners of the Boltzmann medal, the top prize in statistical mechanics
A Mathematical Theory of Communication, the seminal paper by Claude Shannon linking entropy and information
History of the Lenz-Ising Model: From Ferromagnetic to Cooperative Phenomena by Martin Niss, Archive for History of Exact Sciences, Vol 59 (2005) 267-318
Spin, Statistics, CPT and All That Jazz, an essay by John Baez on plausible elementary arguments for the Spin-Statistics Theorem, i.e., why particles with half-integral spin are Fermions.
Periodic Table of the Elements (Los Alamos)
The Molecular Universe : A treasure trove of information about structure of materials, surfaces and interfaces, biological molecules, etc.