School of Physics, University of Sydney

Physics 1 1998 - Physics and Technology

Thermal Physics

There will be 12 lectures in weeks 1-4 of the semester (27th July to 21st August):

Stream Lecture times Lecture Lecturer
1 Mon 10am, Wed 10am, Fri 10am LT8 Dr Pal Fekete (Rm. 218)
2 Tue 2pm, Wed 3pm, Thur 2pm LT1 Dr Reza Hashemi-Nezhad (Rm. 357)

Lectures will not necessarily cover all material presented in the handouts but will focus on key areas of interest or areas in which students commonly find difficulty. Demonstrations performed during lectures will be a large proportion of the course delivery.

In order to get the most out of this course you will need to participate in the following activities.

You will need to :

  1. Read the lecture notes before you come to lectures.
  2. Participate in activities within the lecture. This may mean working in terms of two or more students, voting, handing in instant quizzes and so on.
  3. Fill out the worksheets both during the lecture and at home.
The information presented below is intended to help you get the most out of this course. Interaction between each other and between the class and the lecturer are important for this course to be successful.

Web Site

The thermal Physics web site is located at
The web site is password protected. You will be told how to gain access to this site during your lectures.

Ths web site includes a copy of the lecture notes with links to many of the demonstrations used in the lecture course. Questions with solutions also exist. A new feature of the web resources is the incorporation of a Discussion Group, where you are encouraged to discuss issues from both the web resources and the lecture course. Questions will also be posted to you on the discussion group which may help you when solving the assignment questions. You are encouraged to visit this site.

Since not everyone has access to a computer or an internet connection I am conscious of the need to ensure that no one is disadvantaged. The web based materials are not essential to completing the course and are merely an aid to help improve your understanding.

Many students will either not have a computer at home, or at least not have internet access. The University has provided four Open Access Student Labs where you can use well equipped modern computers for modest cost. These Access Labs are located in the Carslaw Building, the Library, Electrical Engineering and the Education Building.

Use of the computers during some allocated times is free. At other times it costs $2 per hour to use the computers in the Access Labs. You also need to have an "extro" account with the server option, which costs $3 per month, with a $17 establishment fee for the first time you join up. This account can be established by taking an application form (obtainable from an Access Lab) to the University Computing Centre on Boundary Lane in Darlington. The money must be paid ahead of time, and if you have no money in your account you will not be able to use the facilities.

Course Notes

Students are encouraged to purchase course notes for this course from the Photocopy Centre in the Wentworth Building. Ask for the "First Year Physics, Thermal Physics Module, lecturers Dr. Pal Fekete and Dr Reza Hashemi-Nezhad". The notes are intended to complement the lectures. The notes are intended for stream 1 students. Stream 2 students are welcome to use them but should note that the sequence and content of their course may differ.


"Guide to Demonstrations" worksheets will be provided in Stream 1 to compliment the demonstrations performed in those lectures. They are designed to provide links between the Physics being taught and relationships to situations in the real world.

Students are encouraged to attempt questions on these sheets during the lecture as the demonstrations are performed and at home as study for the course.
You should work through these worksheets during the lecture course and not during STUVAC prior to the exam!!!

You will get the most out of the worksheets if you go through them with a partner or a group of friends. NB the person who just sits and listens will not get much out of the exercises. You need to actively participate in answering the questions given.


There will be two assignments, with the marks counting a maximum of 2% to your mark for the whole year. Each assignment contains four questions, of which only two will be marked. You will not know which questions are going to be marked beforehand.

You are encouraged to work in teams of two or three students. In the case of group assignments each team member should sign the cover sheet. Model solutions to all questions in the assignments will be returned with the marked assignments. Each assignment is marked out of 10.

Assignments are to be placed in the pigeon holes outside LT 8 prior to the due time and date. Late assignments must be handed to the lecturer or the first year office. Late assignments without adequate explanation will lose 2 marks.


Tutorials will continue to be held in Rm 320 in the Physics Building (first floor). These tutorials will be held at the usual times from Monday to Friday. You are encouraged to attend the tutorials as they will continue to expose you to the difficult concepts in this course.

Course Outline

The textbook is Halliday, Resnick and Walker Fundamentals of Physics (Fifth Edition). The Learning Goals are given below, together with relevant section numbers and suggested questions, exercises and problems in the textbook. Answers to odd-numbered exercises and problems may be found in the back of the textbook.

Chapter 19 - Temperature, Heat and the First Law of Thermodynamics

Text sections : 19.1 - 19.11 (but not including the atomic view of thermal expansion).
Sample problems : 19.3 - 19.11.
Suggested questions : Q13.
Suggested exercises and problems : 11P, 16E, 29P, 41E, 52E, 54E, 56P, 60P, 67P, 74E, 88P.

At the end of this chapter you will be able to: Done
1 define temperature and describe how it affects the behaviour of various materials
2 give examples of thermometric materials and describe the variable in each case
3 explain why the Zeroth law of thermodynamics is necessary
4 provide examples to illustrate the concept of thermal equilibrium
5 describe experiments to measure temperature practically
6 explain how the Kelvin and international temperature scales are constructed
7 perform calculations for linear, area and volume expansion
8 explain the difference between heat and temperature
9 describe heat as energy transferred because of a temperature difference
10 explain the concept of heat capacity
11 perform calculations for specific heat capacity
12 perform calculations for molar specific heat
13 perform calculations for heats of transformation
14 describe various thermodynamic processes
15 sketch thermal processes on a PV diagram.
16 explain the first law of thermodynamics
17 explain the difference between adiabatic, constant volume and cyclical processes
18 describe the different processes in which heat can be transferred via conduction, radiation and convection
19 perform calculations for the conduction and radiation of energy between materials

Chapter 20 - The Kinetic Theory of Gases

Text sections : 20.1 - 20.3, 20.4 (to the extent of being able to use and understand equations (20-15) and (20-18)), 20.5, 20.6, 20.7 (qualitative understanding), 20.8, 20.9, 20.11 (understand and equations use (20-40) and (20-42) only).
Sample Problems : 20-1, 20-2, 20-4, 20-8, 20-9, 20-10.
Suggested questions : 9.
Suggested exercises and problems : 21P, 27E, 42E, 45P, 55P, 68E, 76E.

At the end of this chapter you will be able to: Done
1 define the concept of the mole and explain the significance of Avogadro's number
2 explain the concept of an ideal gas
3 perform calculations using the ideal gas equation.
4 calculate the work done by an ideal gas during various processes
5 describe the molecular origin of pressure
6 draw diagrams to explain how the compression or expansion of a gas in a container changes its temperature
7 understand and apply the equations PV = nMv2/3V and v = sqrt(3RT/M)
8 explain the connection between the average kinetic energy of molecules and temperature
9 explain the concept of mean free path
10 describe the distribution of molecular speeds
11 apply the law Cp - Cv = R
12 explain the idea of degrees of freedom f, for molecules
13 perform calculations for the average energy per molecule
14 understand and be able to explain the adiabatic gas equations
15 explain the kinetic theory of gases, relating macroscopic properties to microscopic properties
16 describe examples which demonstrate the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution

Chapter 21 - Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Text sections : 21.1 - 21.6.
Sample Problems : 21.1 - 21.5.
Suggested questions : 1 - 3, 7, 9-11.
Suggested exercises and problems : 11E, 13E, 16P. 24P - 27P, 33E, 34E, 36E, 38E, 39E, 49P, 50P, 52E, 55E, 58E, 61P, 67P.

At the end of this chapter you will be able to: Done
1 explain the difference between reversible and irreversible processes
2 describe the operation of an ideal engine and a real engine in thermodynamic terms
3 perform calculations for the efficiency of an ideal heat engine
4 provide two different explanations of the second law of thermodynamics
5 sketch and interpret PV diagrams such as those for the Stirling engine and the Carnot cycle
6 explain and calculate the limit on efficiency of real engines
7 explain and calculate the limit on performance of real refrigerators
8 perform calculations for the differential change in entropy for a reversible process (dS = dQ/T)
9 explain the connection between entropy and the second law of thermodynamics
10 explain the concept that entropy is a measure of disorder (or complexity), and that disorder (or complexity) increases with time

General - Not examinable

At the end of this course you will be able to: Done
1 draw concept maps to illustrate different concepts in the course
2 summarise information for study purposes
3 demonstrate both written and verbal communication skills

This page last updated 20th July 1998 by Pal Fekete.

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Copyright © 1998, Pal Fekete