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This subject extends knowledge of fundamental thermal physics principles and introduces the powerful and elegant Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of classical mechanics. Topics from thermal physics include thermal equilibrium, ideal gas and kinetic theory, equipartition of energy, heat and work, heat capacity, latent heat, enthalpy, thermodynamic processes; thermal systems and statistics, interacting systems, statistics of large systems, entropy, temperature and heat, pressure, chemical potential; heat engines, Carnot cycle, refrigerators, throttling process; Helmholtz and Gibbs Free energies, and phase transformations. In classical physics, topics will include elementary principles (Newton’s laws, momentum and energy conservation, mechanics of systems of particles), Lagrange’s equations (constraints and generalized coordinates, Lagrange’s equations, velocity dependent and dissipative forces, applications, symmetries and conservation laws, stability and oscillations) and Hamilton’s principle (calculus of variation, applications, Hamilton’s principle, Legendre transformations).
Intended learning outcomes
To challenge students to expand their knowledge of fundamental physics principles and develop their capacity to:
- discuss the principles underlying the zeroth, first and second laws of thermodynamics and calculate and interpret the thermodynamic properties of several simple systems.
- solve problems in classical mechanics using the elegant Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations and understand that these principles will help them to gain a deeper insight into the relationship between classical and quantum mechanics.
- acquire and interpret experimental data and perform computer modelling.
A student who completes this subject should be able to:
- explain their understanding of physics principles and applications lucidly, both in writing and orally;
- acquire and interpret experimental data and design experimental investigations;
- participate as an effective member of a group in tutorial discussions, laboratory and study groups;
- think independently and analytically, and direct his or her own learning;
- manage time effectively in order to be prepared for regular practical and tutorial classes, tests, the examination and to complete assignments.
Last updated: 22 July 2021