After a brief historical review of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, the basic principles of statistical mechanics are presented. The classical and quantum mechanical partition functions are discussed and are subsequently used to carry out derivations of the basic thermodynamic properties of several different systems. Topics discussed include Planck’s black body radiation derivation and the Einstein-Debye theories of the specific heats of solids. The importance of these topics in the development and confirmation of quantum mechanics is also examined. Other topics discussed include Fermi Dirac and the Bose-Einstein statistics and the cosmic background radiation. The importance of comparisons between theory and data is stressed throughout.
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