: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company
: 37.60 MB
Download and Read
On most campuses the course in physical chemistry has a reputation for difficulty. It is not, nor should it be, the easiest course available; but to keep the matter in perspective it must be said that the IQ of a genius is not necessary for understanding the subject. The greatest stumbling block that can be erected in the path of learning physical chemistry is the notion that memorizing equations is a sensible way to proceed. Memory should be reserved for the fundamentals and important definitions. Equations are meant to be understood, not to be memorized. In physics and chemistry an equation is not a jumbled mass of symbols, but is a statement of a relation between physical quantities. As you study keep a pencil and scratch paper handy. Play with the final equation from a derivation. If it expresses pressure as a function of temperature, turn it around and express the temperature as a function of pressure. Sketch the functions so that you can "see" the variation. How does the sketch look if one of the parameters is changed? Read physical meaning into the various terms and the algebraic signs which appear in the equation. If a simplifying assumption has been made in the derivation, go back and see what would happen if that assumption were omitted. Apply the derivation to a different special case. Invent problems of your own involving this equation and solve them. Juggle the equation back and forth until you understand its meaning. In the first parts of the book much space is devoted to the meaning of equations; I hope that I have not been too long-winded about it, but it is important to be able to interpret the mathematical statement in terms of its physical content. By all means try to keep a good grasp on the fundamental principles that are being applied; memorize them and above all understand them. Take the time to understand the methods that are used to attack a problem. In Appendix I there is a brief recapitulation of some of the most important mathematical ideas and methods that are used. If any of these things are unfamiliar to you, take the time to review them in a mathematics text. Once the relations between variables have been established, the algebra and calculus are simply mechanical devices, but they should be respected as precision tools. If problems baffle you, learn the technique of problem solving. The principles contained in G. Polya's book, How to Solve It, have helped many of my students.* It is available as a paperback and is well worth studying. Work as many problems as possible. Numerical answers to all problems can be found in Appendix VII. Make up your own problems as often as possible. Watching your teacher perform will not make you into an actor; problem solving will. To aid in this, get a good "scientific" calculator (the serious student will want a programmable one with continuous memory) and learn how to use it to the limit of its capability. Reading the instructions will save you hundreds of hours! Finally, don't be put off by the reputation for difficulty. Many students have enjoyed learning physical chemistry. * G . Polya, How to Solve It. Anchor Book No. 93. New York: Doubleday & Co . , 1 957.