assignment_ind Small White Board Question

10 min.

Partial Derivatives from a Contour Map
Static Fields 2022 (3 years)

Gradient Sequence

In this sequence of small whiteboard questions, students are shown the contour graph of a function of two variables and asked to find the derivative. They discover that, without a function to differentiate, they must instead think of the derivative as a ratio of small changes. This requires them to pick two nearby points. Which two?

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Name the experiment
Energy and Entropy 2021 (3 years)

partial derivatives experiment thermodynamics

Student groups design an experiment that measures an assigned partial derivative. In a compare-and-contrast wrap-up, groups report on how they would measure their derivatives.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Name the experiment (changing entropy)
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

thermodynamics entropy experiment derivative first law

Students are placed into small groups and asked to create an experimental setup they can use to measure the partial derivative they are given, in which entropy changes.

assignment Homework

Rubber Sheet
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

Consider a hanging rectangular rubber sheet. We will consider there to be two ways to get energy into or out of this sheet: you can either stretch it vertically or horizontally. The distance of vertical stretch we will call \(y\), and the distance of horizontal stretch we will call \(x\).

If I pull the bottom down by a small distance \(\Delta y\), with no horizontal force, what is the resulting change in width \(\Delta x\)? Express your answer in terms of partial derivatives of the potential energy \(U(x,y)\).

group Small Group Activity

10 min.

Generalized Leibniz Notation
Static Fields 2022 (4 years) This short small group activity introduces students to the Leibniz notation used for partial derivatives in thermodynamics; unlike standard Leibniz notation, this notation explicitly specifies constant variables. Students are guided in linking the variables from a contextless Leibniz-notation partial derivative to their proper variable categories.

assignment Homework

Entropy and Temperature
Energy Temperature Ideal gas Entropy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Suppose \(g(U) = CU^{3N/2}\), where \(C\) is a constant and \(N\) is the number of particles.

  1. Show that \(U=\frac32 N k_BT\).

  2. Show that \(\left(\frac{\partial^2S}{\partial U^2}\right)_N\) is negative. This form of \(g(U)\) actually applies to a monatomic ideal gas.

format_list_numbered Sequence

Gradient Sequence
This sequence starts with an introduction to partial derivatives and continues through gradient. While some of the activities/problems are pure math, a number of other activities/problems are situated in the context of electrostatics. This sequence is intended to be used intermittently across multiple days or even weeks of a course or even multiple courses.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

“Squishability” of Water Vapor (Contour Map)

Thermo Partial Derivatives

Students determine the “squishibility” (an extensive compressibility) by taking \(-\partial V/\partial P\) holding either temperature or entropy fixed.

assignment Homework

Energy fluctuations
energy Boltzmann factor statistical mechanics heat capacity Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 Consider a system of fixed volume in thermal contact with a resevoir. Show that the mean square fluctuations in the energy of the system is \begin{equation} \left<\left(\varepsilon-\langle\varepsilon\rangle\right)^2\right> = k_BT^2\left(\frac{\partial U}{\partial T}\right)_{V} \end{equation} Here \(U\) is the conventional symbol for \(\langle\varepsilon\rangle\). Hint: Use the partition function \(Z\) to relate \(\left(\frac{\partial U}{\partial T}\right)_V\) to the mean square fluctuation. Also, multiply out the term \((\cdots)^2\).

assignment Homework

Isothermal/Adiabatic Compressibility
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

The isothermal compressibility is defined as \begin{equation} K_{T}=-\frac{1}{V} \left(\frac{\partial V}{\partial p}\right)_{T} \end{equation} \(K_T\) is be found by measuring the fractional change in volume when the the pressure is slightly changed with the temperature held constant. In contrast, the adiabatic compressibility is defined as \begin{equation} K_{S}=-\frac{1}{V} \left(\frac{\partial V}{\partial p}\right)_{S} \end{equation} and is measured by making a slight change in pressure without allowing for any heat transfer. This is the compressibility, for instance, that would directly affect the speed of sound. Show that \begin{equation} \frac{K_{T}}{K_{S}} = \frac{C_{p}}{C_{V}} \end{equation} Where the heat capacities at constant pressure and volume are given by \begin{align} C_{p} &= T \left(\frac{\partial S}{\partial T}\right)_{p} \\ C_{V} &= T \left(\frac{\partial S}{\partial T}\right)_{V} \end{align}

assignment Homework

Derivatives from Data (NIST)
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years) Use the NIST web site “Thermophysical Properties of Fluid Systems” to answer the following questions. This site is an excellent resource for finding experimentally measured properties of fluids.
  1. Find the partial derivatives \[\left(\frac{\partial {S}}{\partial {T}}\right)_{p}\] \[\left(\frac{\partial {S}}{\partial {T}}\right)_{V}\] where \(p\) is the pressure, \(V\) is the volume, \(S\) is the entropy, and \(T\) is the temperature. Please find these derivatives for one gram of methanol at one atmosphere of pressure and at room temperature.
  2. Why does it take only two variables to define the state?
  3. Why are the derivatives above different?
  4. What do the words isobaric, isothermal, and isochoric mean?

assignment Homework

Using Gibbs Free Energy
thermodynamics entropy heat capacity internal energy equation of state Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

You are given the following Gibbs free energy: \begin{equation*} G=-k T N \ln \left(\frac{a T^{5 / 2}}{p}\right) \end{equation*} where \(a\) is a constant (whose dimensions make the argument of the logarithm dimensionless).

  1. Compute the entropy.

  2. Work out the heat capacity at constant pressure \(C_p\).

  3. Find the connection among \(V\), \(p\), \(N\), and \(T\), which is called the equation of state (Hint: find the volume as a partial derivative of the Gibbs free energy).

  4. Compute the internal energy \(U\).

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Directional Derivatives
Vector Calculus I 2022

Directional derivatives

Gradient Sequence

This small group activity using surfaces relates the geometric definition of directional derivatives to the components of the gradient vector. Students work in small groups to measure a directional derivative directly, then compare its components with measured partial derivatives in rectangular coordinates. The whole class wrap-up discussion emphasizes the relationship between the geometric gradient vector and directional derivatives.

assignment Homework

Contours

Gradient Sequence

Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

Shown below is a contour plot of a scalar field, \(\mu(x,y)\). Assume that \(x\) and \(y\) are measured in meters and that \(\mu\) is measured in kilograms. Four points are indicated on the plot.

  1. Determine \(\frac{\partial\mu}{\partial x}\) and \(\frac{\partial\mu}{\partial y}\) at each of the four points.
  2. On a printout of the figure, draw a qualitatively accurate vector at each point corresponding to the gradient of \(\mu(x,y)\) using your answers to part a above. How did you choose a scale for your vectors? Describe how the direction of the gradient vector is related to the contours on the plot and what property of the contour map is related to the magnitude of the gradient vector.
  3. Evaluate the gradient of \(h(x,y)=(x+1)^2\left(\frac{x}{2}-\frac{y}{3}\right)^3\) at the point \((x,y)=(3,-2)\).

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Covariation in Thermal Systems

Thermo Multivariable Functions

Students consider how changing the volume of a system changes the internal energy of the system. Students use plastic graph models to explore these functions.

face Lecture

5 min.

Energy and Entropy review
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 (3 years)

thermodynamics statistical mechanics

This very quick lecture reviews the content taught in Energy and Entropy, and is the first content in Thermal and Statistical Physics.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

The Hillside
Vector Calculus I 2022

Gradient Sequence

Students work in groups to measure the steepest slope and direction on a plastic surface, and to compare their result with the gradient vector, obtained by measuring its components (the slopes in the coordinate directions).

assignment Homework

Heat capacity of vacuum
Heat capacity entropy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020
  1. Solve for the heat capacity of a vacuum, given the above, and assuming that photons represent all the energy present in vacuum.
  2. Compare the heat capacity of vacuum at room temperature with the heat capacity of an equal volume of water.

assignment Homework

Differential Form of Gauss's Law
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

For an infinitesimally thin cylindrical shell of radius \(b\) with uniform surface charge density \(\sigma\), the electric field is zero for \(s<b\) and \(\vec{E}= \frac{\sigma b}{\epsilon_0 s}\, \hat s\) for \(s > b\). Use the differential form of Gauss' Law to find the charge density everywhere in space.

face Lecture

10 min.

Angular Momentum Commutation Relations: Lecture
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)