The Physics of Heat Capacity

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Part of the Macmillan Monographs in the Physical Sciences series, The Physics of Heat Capacity includes chapters on the heat capacities of gases and solids, and ideas for experimental projects.

Chapter 1, on the heat capacities of gases looks at the kinetic theory of gases, thermodynamics and equipartition of energy. The chapter also covers angular momentum, the Boltzmann distribution and quantum theory to understand the translational, rotational and vibrational contributions to heat capacity.

Chapter 2, on the heat capacities of solids, introduces harmonic motion to consider the heat capacities for materials with atoms constrained to fewer degrees of freedom. The contribution of lattice vibrations and electronic contributions are explored.

Chapter 3 describes some ideas for experimental projects, including demonstrations of the Boltzmann factor and evidence for quantum energy levels.

Mathematical supplements are provided to cover equipartition of energy, the distribution of molecular speeds in a gas, a proof of the Boltzmann factor, Stirling’s formula and the average energy of a one-dimensional quantum harmonic oscillator.

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