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Activities

  1. Find the entropy of a set of \(N\) oscillators of frequency \(\omega\) as a function of the total quantum number \(n\). Use the multiplicity function: \begin{equation} g(N,n) = \frac{(N+n-1)!}{n!(N-1)!} \end{equation} and assume that \(N\gg 1\). This means you can make the Sitrling approximation that \(\log N! \approx N\log N - N\). It also means that \(N-1 \approx N\).

  2. Let \(U\) denote the total energy \(n\hbar\omega\) of the oscillators. Express the entropy as \(S(U,N)\). Show that the total energy at temperature \(T\) is \begin{equation} U = \frac{N\hbar\omega}{e^{\frac{\hbar\omega}{kT}}-1} \end{equation} This is the Planck result found the hard way. We will get to the easy way soon, and you will never again need to work with a multiplicity function like this.

A one-dimensional harmonic oscillator has an infinite series of equally spaced energy states, with \(\varepsilon_n = n\hbar\omega\), where \(n\) is an integer \(\ge 0\), and \(\omega\) is the classical frequency of the oscillator. We have chosen the zero of energy at the state \(n=0\) which we can get away with here, but is not actually the zero of energy! To find the true energy we would have to add a \(\frac12\hbar\omega\) for each oscillator.

  1. Show that for a harmonic oscillator the free energy is \begin{equation} F = k_BT\log\left(1 - e^{-\frac{\hbar\omega}{k_BT}}\right) \end{equation} Note that at high temperatures such that \(k_BT\gg\hbar\omega\) we may expand the argument of the logarithm to obtain \(F\approx k_BT\log\left(\frac{\hbar\omega}{kT}\right)\).

  2. From the free energy above, show that the entropy is \begin{equation} \frac{S}{k_B} = \frac{\frac{\hbar\omega}{kT}}{e^{\frac{\hbar\omega}{kT}}-1} - \log\left(1-e^{-\frac{\hbar\omega}{kT}}\right) \end{equation}

    Entropy of a simple harmonic oscillator
    Heat capacity of a simple harmonic oscillator
    This entropy is shown in the nearby figure, as well as the heat capacity.

Give the general solution of the differential equation: \[\frac{d^2 y}{dx^2}+Ay=0\] Make sure that you can give the solution of this equation regardless of the geometric names of the dependent and independent variables and for either sign for the constant \(A\).

It is NOT necessary to show any work. You may NOT, however, give a solution that has a negative number inside a square root. I am testing whether you can recognize this equation and remember its solution. This equation comes up over and over again in physics, but disguised by different symbols. I am also testing whether you recognize that the geometric character of the equation changes depending on the sign of \(A\).

  • Found in: Central Forces course(s)

Give the general solution of the differential equation: \[\frac{d^2 \Phi}{d\phi^2}+7\Phi=0\]

It is NOT necessary to show any work.

  • Found in: Central Forces course(s)

Give the general solution of the differential equation: \[\frac{d^2 u}{d\phi^2}+u=0\]

It is NOT necessary to show any work.

  • Found in: Central Forces course(s)

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Energy radiated from one oscillator
This lecture is one step in motivating the form of the Planck distribution.

Small Group Activity

10 min.

Guess the Fourier Series from a Graph
The students are shown the graph of a function that is a superposition of three harmonic functions and asked to guess the harmonic terms of the Fourier series. Students then use prewritten Sage code to verify the coefficients from their guess. The program allows the students to enter functions of their own choice as well as the one that is preset.
  • Found in: Oscillations and Waves, None course(s)