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A Student's Guide to Entropy [Kindle Edition]

Don S. Lemons
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Striving to explore the subject in as simple a manner as possible, this book helps readers understand the elusive concept of entropy. Innovative aspects of the book include the construction of statistical entropy from desired properties, the derivation of the entropy of classical systems from purely classical assumptions, and a statistical thermodynamics approach to the ideal Fermi and ideal Bose gases. Derivations are worked through step-by-step and important applications are highlighted in over 20 worked examples. Around 50 end-of-chapter exercises test readers' understanding. The book also features a glossary giving definitions for all essential terms, a time line showing important developments, and list of books for further study. It is an ideal supplement to undergraduate courses in physics, engineering, chemistry and mathematics.

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'In A Student's Guide to Entropy, Don Lemons conveys both mathematical and physical intuition of entropy … [he] is very thorough, clear, and succinct in his explanations, making sure that no subtlety is left unnoticed or unaccounted for. The reader feels that he/she is being taught and guided by an experienced teacher of thermodynamics and entropy … This book will be essential not only to students but also to faculty who are charged with the difficult task of teaching a subject that involves entropy … a thorough, self-contained guide to entropy for students and teachers.' Effrosyni Seitaridou, American Journal of Physics

'The book is well written … Highly recommended.' Choice

'… a truly first-rate book on the subject, and I would happily recommend it as the main (and inexpensive) text for a course of statistical mechanics.' The Observatory

Book Description

Striving to explore the subject in as simple a manner as possible, this book helps readers understand the elusive concept of entropy, and is an ideal supplement to undergraduate courses in physics, engineering, chemistry and mathematics. Nearly 50 end-of-chapter exercises test readers' understanding.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3737 KB
  • Print Length: 194 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (31 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EZ3VHK0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #205,419 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
* Physical

This book is around 181 black and white pictures and texts pages and is very well bound on quality paper. The fonts used here have a good size for those who require spectacles.

* Target audience: H.N.D, Undergraduate, Post – Graduate?

This book is at undergraduate level for Physics, Engineering, Chemistry, and Mathematics.

* What does it cover then?

The author of this book does not shirk very early on from the descriptions to guide the fresh reader. Such as ‘What is Entropy?’ This answer can take several descriptions to show its properties. Its major description uses several forms to help spread the load; Thermodynamic Entropy, Statistical Entropy, Entropy of classical systems, Entropy of Quantized systems, Entropy of a non – isolated systems, Entropy of fermion systems, Entropy of Information and macroscopic objects of many parts.

* Can you share examples of concepts used in this book?

The concepts use variables to explain pressure, volume, temperature, mass, internal forms of energy, and entropy. The idea is in many systems using fundamental particles they can be taken from one value to another. Such as interactions of fundamental particles approach another and interact via gravitation, electromagnetism, or nuclear forces. These interactions among these particles are time reversible. But when used with thermodynamic systems entropy is mostly non-reversible. Such as a cup of coffee left on a table always cools down and not heat up. So as a Loschmidts paradox,’ That many reversible fundamental processes do not always compose a reversible thermodynamic process.’

* What’s the mathematical level used like?
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small but gutsy 6 Jun. 2015
By Ronjoe
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've been shortof time so have only just glanced through this "small" book. It looks as though it will be just what I was looking for
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 3 Feb. 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very helpful book which explains a difficult concept well
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0 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 29 Sept. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
it's a goog textbook
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entropy intelligently explained 6 Feb. 2014
By Michael Birman - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Do not be misled by the description that appears on the book's back cover: "striving to explore the subject in as simple a manner as possible". The statement is accurate (as far as it goes) but requires an important caveat: entropy and thermodynamics are mathematically driven subjects and require math for an in depth discussion. Any discussion of entropy without mathematics can offer only a narrow conceptual overview which will inevitably be inadequate. However, there are two fine books published by Dover (at low Dover prices) that are quite helpful in offering a solid introduction. They contain some math but quantitatively less than A Student's Guide to Entropy. The books are Understanding Thermodynamics (Dover Books on Physics) by H. C. Van Ness and Thermodynamics (Dover Books on Physics) by the great Italian Physicist Enrico Fermi. An entirely conceptual discussion which leaves out any material that requires mathematics for understanding or for conceptual derivation is The Second Law (Scientific American Library) by P. W. Atkins, originally published in the Scientific American Library. It is a bit dated and leaves out a lot of important material, but there is no mathematics and it is a nice, clearly written introduction to the single most important concept in all of science. Comparing this book to the others is instructive as to how limiting the lack of mathematics can be.

A Student's Guide to Entropy offers an excellent overview arranged roughly chronologically into Classical statistical thermodynamics and modern quantized thermodynamics. The level of physics required for a full understanding of the material is upper undergraduate with an appropriate level of mathematics that includes algebra, partial differential equations, probability theory, statistical analysis and topics from discrete mathematics. If you meet these requirements you should find the book clearly written and intelligently outlined. But if you are unable to manipulate mathematics at this level or cannot follow a mathematically structured argument you will find this book somewhat opaque. A Student's Guide to Entropy is an intelligent introduction but, like all science and mathematics, it is challenging material requiring prior exposure to antecedent subjects as a foundation for true understanding.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An (Almost) Perfect Model of Textbook Writing! 9 Feb. 2014
By Gregory Bravo - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Many--- might I say most--- physics textbooks have major flaws. Some have no worked examples in the text. Some have partial or no derivations (cf. the evil "derivation left to the reader.") Others have no practice problems. Of those that do have problems, many don't provide solutions. Finally, many are extremely obtuse in their explanations; they simply can't explain things well.

This textbook, "A Student's Guide to Entropy" by Don S. Lemons, avoids (almost) all of these pitfalls. Other than one minor reservation that I have (which I'll mention later,) I felt that this was an almost perfect example of what a good textbook should be! (You do need integral and derivative calculus and an understanding of infinite series; if you don't have an understanding of this math, this book is not for you.)

The author (an emeritus professor of physics) has spent many years doing research on the very topics in this book. While that is certainly a good thing--- he's an expert, and it's nice knowing that you're learning from an expert--- it is not a SUFFICIENT thing for writing a good textbook. What is needed, really, is an understanding and memory of what it was like BEFORE you understood those things you're an expert in--- and the ability to explain these topics clearly to those who don't yet understand them. Many experts have no ability at all to explain or convey their ideas in this fashion. Don Lemons does.

Here are the details:

The topic of the book is entropy (duh!) Entropy is one of the slipperiest concepts in physics. It has several definitions which seem, at first, to not be related to one another. For example, entropy is necessary to understand heat engines and the thermodynamic states of classical systems (like your car engine,) but is also needed to understand weird quantum states of matter like Bose-Einstein condensates. Just when you think you understand how the pressure inside a piston is related to Bose-Einstein condensation, then you learn that actually all of these ideas are the same as those in information theory and computer systems. Weird, right? Because this idea is so pervasive in so many different areas of science and physics, and yet because it looks different on the surface when you use it in these different fields, it can quickly get out of hand when you attempt to truly understand what the heck it means. I've tried to read several other textbooks on this quite difficult topic, only to become quickly lost. Not so with this book!

It is obvious that this author has thought very long and very hard about what would be the best and clearest and simplest way to present this topic. I can say with some great relief that he has succeeded brilliantly!

The book starts with a discussion of classical thermodynamic systems. He doesn't expect too much prior knowledge here, and very clearly defines what he means at each stage. Reversible and irreversible systems, heat engines, the laws of thermodynamics... and then discusses how entropy fits in. From there he moves on in subsequent chapters to Statistical Entropy, Entropy of Classical Systems, Entropy of Quantized Systems, Entropy of Non-Isolated Systems (and the dreaded partition function,) Entropy of Quantum Systems (Bose and Fermi Systems,) and concludes with a chapter on the Entropy of Information. This is a short, excellent, clear overview of the main areas in physics where entropy plays a key role.

What I appreciate most about his writing style is that he clearly DEFINES new ideas in words before presenting formulas, but doesn't get too off track on side topics. Everything that he presents is really the essential nugget of the topic without extraneous jibber-jabber. Additionally-- and I can't emphasize this enough-- he really has a gift for explanation. Some topics that, in the past, I didn't quite grasp fully I feel that I have a much better handle on after reading this book.

Besides his skills at exposition, the way he chose to structure the book is generally excellent. He provides worked examples in the text, and then provides practice exercises at the end of each chapter. He provides the numerical solutions for these examples at the end of the book. He provides an extensive glossary, as well as a reading list. These are all great things.

Here is the one caveat that I mentioned I had earlier, though: While providing numerical solutions is helpful (and certainly better than nothing,) I would have much preferred these to be WORKED, STEP-BY-STEP solutions. While I understand that he might not have had room to do this in the textbook itself, I urge Professor Lemon to consider providing WORKED solutions to all of these problems on his website or in a downloadable PDF. That would have helped me tremendously! (In order to truly understand how to do physics, you simply HAVE to be able to do problems. If you don't have access to a professor or graduate student, there is really no way to find the solution to a problem if you just can't crack it on your own. If you don't have a solution to work through, you're stuck--- and it stops you from moving forward in your learning. A solutions manual would help avoid that.)

One other (small) complaint I have is that there are several homework problems of the type "Derive Equation 16." I hate these type of problems; almost every author of a physics text does this, and I wish they'd stop it. Just give me the derivation already! That's what a text should provide. A derivation is an explanation of how the physics came to be understood--- and that is what a textbook should be giving you. That is what you need to truly understand the topic. You, as a student, shouldn't have to work this out yourself! Using the conclusions of those derivations is what the homework should be about. <endrant>

Besides those two minor quibbles, I think this is quite an excellent textbook for those interested in learning the physics of entropy. I learned quite a lot, and felt that I was being guided with great care by a concerned and empathetic expert.

I would recommend it!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice accompaniment to other texts 16 Jan. 2014
By R. Tompson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For a college or advanced high school student in physics or chemistry, this small handbook collects a variety of definitions and equations into one place.

It reads a bit like an extended Wikipedia article... many topics get a brief paragraph, there are no derivations of the equations.

But if you or your student has already done the work learning the concepts, this title can be a great review/overview.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for Working through Entropy, not light reading 20 Feb. 2014
By G. BARTO - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I got this on the heels of A Student's Guide to the Mathematics of Astronomy. In other contexts, I might have taken A Student's Guide to Entropy as pretty darn good, but with that basis for comparison it does suffer a little.

If you are learning about entropy from another source and are trying to get a handle on what's going on when the professor/text says "and of course this equation translates to this equation, which allows us to see..." this is a great book. For most equations, each variable is explained, then various transformations of each equation are given with enough explanation that you can understand why you would want to approach the same information from another angle. However, you do need to do a fair amount of dot connecting on your own. (For example, the Mathematics of Astronomy book liberally displayed where units of measurement changed or canceled out, and showed as much as it could without having to use the calculus).

If you have a solid background in mathematics but are having a hard time relating the math to the workings of entropy, this is a great book for you. If you're into physics or chemistry and the mathematics is baffling you, though, you need to look elsewhere.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep, not easy 20 Mar. 2014
By Nicholas Sterling - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Perhaps it's my fault, but I was expecting something else when I ordered this book. I had a basic understanding of entropy from physics courses taken long ago and from readings on information theory, and I was hoping that this book would be a gentle introduction that would start with a friendly wallow in the concepts and then slowly add some rigor. This book gets down to business a bit too rapidly for me; I think I need the "For Dummies" version. It is heavy on the math, although if you are comfortable with partial differential equations you'll probably be OK.

I haven't given up on it; ironically I found the second section, which is about statistical entropy, much more approachable than the first. I might just grab a college physics text and refresh my knowledge of thermodynamics first...
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