Physical Chemistry (Free PDF)

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WHAT THIS PERSON’S QUESTION LACKED IN LENGTH, it made up for in angst. I spent almost an hour composing a response, which I posted. My response generated about half a dozen direct responses, all supporting my statements. Curiously, only half of the responses were from students; the other half were from professors.

Generally, I said that physical chemistry isn’t inherently harder than any other technical subject. It is very mathematical, and students who may have formally satisfied the math requirements (typically calculus) may still find physical chemistry a challenge because it requires them to apply the calculus. Many instructors and textbooks can be overly presumptuous about the math abilities of the students, and consequently many students falter—not because they can’t do the chemistry, but because they can’t follow the math.

Also, in some cases the textbooks themselves are inappropriate for the level of a junior-year course (in my opinion). Many textbooks contain so much information that they blow the students away.Many of them are great books— for reference, on a professor’s bookshelf, or for a graduate student studying for cumulative exams. But for undergraduate chemistry and chemical engineering majors taking physical chemistry for the first time? Too much! It’s like using the Oxford English Dictionary as a text for English 101. Sure, the OED has all the vocabulary you would ever need, but it’s overkill.Many physical chemistry texts are great for those who already know physical chemistry, but not for those who are trying to learn physical chemistry.What is needed is a book that works as a textbook, not as an encyclopedia, of physical chemistry.

1. Gases and the Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics
2. The First Law of Thermodynamics
3. The Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics
4. Free Energy and Chemical Potential
5. Introduction to Chemical Equilibrium
6. Equilibria in Single-Component Systems
7. Equilibria in Multiple-Component Systems
8. Electrochemistry and Ionic Solutions
9. Pre-Quantum Mechanics
10. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
11. Quantum Mechanics: Model Systems and the Hydrogen Atom
12. Atoms and Molecules
13. Introduction to Symmetry in Quantum Mechanics
14. Rotational and Vibrational Spectroscopy
15. Introduction to Electronic Spectroscopy and Structure
16. Introduction to Magnetic Spectroscopy
17. Statistical Thermodynamics: Introduction
18. More Statistical Thermodynamics
19. The Kinetic Theory of Gases
20. Kinetics
21. The Solid State: Crystals
22. Surfaces
Answers to Selected Exercises
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Author Details
"David W. Ball"
Cleveland State University

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