December 21, 2011

Bailey, William
[MSAE E3111] Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This course is real fun. You get a pretty comprehensive treatment of a very fascinating subject, that starts right from first principles of statistical mechanics and slowly works its way up to the thermodynamics of ideal gases, and so on that is probably familiar to you. Studying the theory is fun, and the book (Charles Kittel and Herbert Kroemer, Thermal Physics) is extremely good - study it very systematically, and you'll really understand the subject.

Prof. Bailey - well, he's a little clueless in class. He knows his stuff, but that sometimes doesn't translate into knowing how to teach basic thermodynamics. I didn't really look forward to going to classes, although I loved the subject. He's definitely a nice guy, and will answer questions very patiently; but while it is definitely possible to make the class interesting, he tends to spend a lot of time going slowly through each derivation, which detracts from the focus he gives to the essential points of the theory, that make it interesting and useful.

But while he is not the liveliest of professors, he is certainly not intolerable - some of the classes are pretty good.

On the whole, definitely look forward to the class - especially the subject matter of thermodynamics. If you like physics at all, you'll love this class.

Workload:

Ten (almost-weekly) homework sets (10% of your grade), two midterms (25% each) and a final (40%). The second midterm was ridiculously easy. The problem sets are not too time-consuming.