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Before I take P-Chem I would like to understand how physicists view the same material. What Physics course(s) should I take and/or books should I read to learn the same material from a physicist's perspective? Would thermodynamics be equivalent?

Background: I have done the math: Calculus 1-3 and differential equations and have already taken general physics 1+2 and 2 semesters of modern physics (relativity, QM...).

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closed as too localized by mbq Jul 13 '11 at 12:22

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

It is very hard to answer this without a precise knowledge about the program of your studies; thus I close as too localized. Better try to consult syllabi or local P-Chem professor. – mbq Jul 13 '11 at 12:25
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This really depends on the faculty of your institution - some physical chemistry curricula are heavy on molecular orbital theory and spectroscopy rather than macroscopic phenomena like thermodynamics. In that case, the toolset and language build off what you see in a quantum mechanics class, but the increased complexity of the systems makes the reasoning necessarily a bit less rigorous. It's hard to say what the physics equivalent is, because to a reductionist, it is a system of approximation tools that allow one to apply quantum mechanical principles to non-homogeneous many-body systems like molecules.

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As I understand the subject, P-Chem is applied quantum mechanics. In other words, P-Chem investigates ways in which chemical behaviors can be derived from the underlying quantum mechanical behavior of atoms.

So in that sense, the physical chemistry of physics is... physical chemistry. If you would like to have a better understanding of basic quantum mechanics, I could recommend the text book I used for intro QM as an undergrad in physics:

"Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles" by R. Eisberg and R. Resnick

(EDIT) Actually I think this is a better intro QM text. It is what I used in the more advanced second semester quantum theory class as an undergrad:

"Introductory Quantum Mechanics" by R. Liboff

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I might also add (although its not really part of an answer, hence the comment) that when you ask about "the same material from a physicist's perspective," the real answer is that this material is not physics. Which is why we leave it to chemists to study it. We've got to draw the line someplace, otherwise every single academic discipline would be the domain of physics. – Colin K Jul 12 '11 at 18:33
I think that physical chemistry is mainly concerned with macroscopic phenomena, thus statistical mechanics might be as important as (if not more than) quantum mechanics. I also think that a large part of the field use (low Reynolds number) hydrodynamics, continuum physics (stress, strain) and electromagnetism as their main tool. But be warned, I don't know much about this field. – Heidar Jul 12 '11 at 19:46
@George: Neither Colin or I claimed we were experts, I actually underlined this fact. My response WAS based on 'knowledge' but since I am not an expert, I clearly indicated how trustworthy my response is (I believe this is fine, in absent of better answers). It seems you are a retired chemist, why don't you provide us with your expertise...? – Heidar Jul 13 '11 at 0:14
I just google'd "physical chemistry" and it seems that my comment is pretty accurate. – Heidar Jul 13 '11 at 0:19

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