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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2004
I guess it takes chutzpah to write a review on a book by Fermi. Are we supposed to report errors??
Okay so what is it about. I think personally this book is for someone who has already taken courses on or at least understands classical thermodynamics. Because this book is an elegant introduction to the field in a brief form. It is not a thick learning book with problems so you can design a better turbine when you are finished. It is an elegant supplemental source of information from a master.
Having taken statistical mechanics through the graduate school level in physics, I bought the book and enjoyed the book as a sort of intellectual refresher. The aim is to see it his way, from his perspective, sitting under a tree with a glass of wine in one hand and the book in another. It was to enjoy and appreciate his writings and his "lecture" on this aspect of physics.
The book is suitable for someone with one or two years of physics or engineering.
Jack in Toronto
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on February 12, 2004
These lectures by Enrico Fermi make great reading for undergraduates in chemistry or physics, particularly those undergoing the rigors of physical chemistry and chemical thermodynamics. Fermi writes with clarity, always carefully laying the appropriate groundwork for each topic.
The mathematics assumes familiarity with calculus, including partial differentiation. Fermi provides clear explanations and motivation for the mathematics and the derivations are complete and easy to follow. For example, he carefully explained the form of a perfect differential of two variables and how it can be more readily integrated. I appreciated this help.
The first four chapters will be familiar to students of physics: Thermodynamic Systems, First Law of Thermodynamics, Second Law of Thermodynamics, and Entropy. The derivation of the Clapeyron equation and the Van der Waals equation may be new to some students.
Thereafter, the text begins to look more like physical chemistry with chapters titled Thermodynamic Potentials, Gaseous Reactions, Thermodynamics of Dilute Solutions, and the Entropy Constant. I found these last chapters to be more difficult, but not overly so.
At some points Thermodynamics becomes a real page-turner, but not in the sense of a fast-paced action story. The page-turning is necessary to retrieve earlier mathematical expressions. Occasionally, you will encounter statements like "the expression for the free energy is immediately obtained from equations (111), (29), and (86)." Fermi does not allow the reader to forget earlier derivations and discussions.
If your familiarity with thermodynamics is limited (or now foggy due to the passage of years), I suggest first reading Understanding Thermodynamics by H. C. Van Ness. This 100-page book, a series of lectures, is an excellent introduction to thermodynamics from an engineering and physics perspective. It corresponds to the first four chapters of Fermi's text.
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on July 9, 2015
This is a classic science book by one of the great physicists of all time, a Nobel Prize winner and one of the chief developers of quantum mechanics - Enrico Fermi. The text is elementary in treatment and remarkable for its clarity and organization. It covers the core of thermodynamics - thermodynamic systems, laws of thermodynamics, entropy, ideal and real gases, and other core topics.

Everyone should read this book to be a well rounded person. At 150 pages, it's pretty easy to go through. From my own experience this book can be worked through in two full nights. I did that right before the exams. :)

I've placed this book #14 in my Top 100 Programming, Computer and Science books list:

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on January 28, 2003
fermi presents thermodynamics with beutiful economy. many other authors obfuscate the subject with extraneous detail, often missing the most important points. fermi misses absolutely nothing of importance, but does not weigh down his explanations with ramblings or tangents either. he presents the bare core of thermodynamics.
though the following analogy is somewhat cheesy, i find it appropriate: most authors who have written on thermo are like beginning kung fu students who do all sorts of fancy moves, backflips, and sommersaults but who ultimately land on their behinds. fermi is like the grand master who uses a stunning sparsity of moves, but each one is necessary and each one is enough. in the end, his competition doesn't stand a chance. he's just that good.
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on October 3, 2012
This easy-to-read book gets right to the nut of thermodynamics. It clearly expresses the fundamental reasoning that led to that otherwise arcane and flummoxing concept we call "entropy". I heartily recommend this book as a valuable educational tool. It is also reminds us, who have gone down this road before, of the critical importance of understanding these fundamental concepts on which our knowledge of nature rests. I recommend it very highly.
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on July 18, 1997
Would you be interested in an introductory piano "how to" written by Mozart? How about a Driver's Education couse taught by Al Unser?
No student of physics or chemistry should be without this clear, cogent examination of thermodynamics. As one of the top scientists of this century, one can consider Fermi's thermo text as science that's "straight from the horse's mouth."
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on July 18, 1998
This is Fermi at his best. A charming booklet which presents thermodynamics using the elegant Carnot cycle method. It stands out from the competitors by showing many enlightening applications with physics always having the limelight. The study of the adiabatic atmosphere, with the derivation of the dependence of temperature on height,is particularly delightful.
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on February 21, 2003
Thanks for the previous reviewers. Their comments are absolutely correct. This is one of the best book on thermodynamics!
The book is small in size, but contains clear and comprehensive explanations of the subject.
There is usually something I don't like in a book. However, I cannot find a single negative thing about this one. It is that good!
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on November 30, 2000
Profound. This book is a beautiful work on the subject of thermodynamics. I consider this a classic treatise. All that one requires is a knowledge of basic calculus.
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on October 14, 2014
very cool book. glad I bought it.
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