Penn State

Philip C. Bevilacqua - Associate Professor of Chemistry, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Molecular Driving Forces: Statistical Thermodynamics in Chemistry and Biology

Author: Ken A. Dill and Sarina Bromberg

Book Description:

I chose this book because it presents for me an every increasing appeal to my way of thinking and doing research. In this book, Professor Dill provides an introduction to using statistical thermodynamics to describe chemical phenomena. The power of this method is that theories are derived from surprisingly simple models, models that can be sketched ‘on the back of an envelope'. From these models, equations are derived to simulate, model, and fit experimental data. By looking at the successes and failures of such models, one can begin to understand the importance of certain features of the system--what is necessary and unnecessary to mimic important behavior. What this book does is make a connection between two different ways of thinking: a visual, model-driven approach, and a sophisticated mathematical, equation-driven approach. Whether the reader finds him/herself with strengths in one area or the other, learning to think on both levels provides the potential for clarity of understanding, which can ultimately lead to creative ideas for new knowledge. Last, but certainly not least, the general approach provided here, in full or in part, provides an excellent way to convey complex ideas to students in the classroom.

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