Module Identifier PHM1510  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Professor Keith Birkinshaw  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Professor L Grischuck (Cardiff)  
Pre-Requisite Successful Completion of Year 3 of the MPhys Scheme  
Course delivery Lecture   20 lectures  
  Seminars / Tutorials   3 seminars / tutorials  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  80%
Semester Assessment Aberystwyth Assessment. Coursework - Examples Class. Deadline: Week 4 of the Semester10%
Semester Assessment Cardiff Assessment. Coursework - Examples Class. Deadline: Week 10 of the Semester10%
Supplementary Exam2 Hours  100%

Learning outcomes

After taking this module students should be able to:



Brief description

This module will be taught jointly with the Department of Physics at Cardiff, using the University of Wales video network. It consists of two blocks of lectures covering different applications of statistical physics:
(a) Information Theory (Aberystwyth)
(b) Astrophysical applications (Cardiff)


Information Theory:
Information - the relation to probability
The message, the bit, message transmission - source, channel, destination, channel capacity, noise
Entropy and information rate
Mutual information
The binary symmetric channel (BSC)
Application in Communications, Spectroscopy and Statistical Mechanics
Identical, indistinguishable Bose and Fermi particles

Astrophysical Applications:
Equilibrium and stability of stars. Gravitational forces and pressure gradients. Normal and degenerate stars.
Breakdown of Maxwell-Boltzmann gas law. Fermi-Dirac/Bose-Einstein statistics. Equation of state for ideal Fermi gas.
White dwarfs. Simple equations of state. Nonrelativistic and ultrarelativistic electrons.
Masses and radii of white dwarfs. The Chandrasekhar limit. Qualitative derivation of the Chandrasekhar limit.   
Statistical mechanics of solids and cooling of white dwarfs. Comparison with observations.   
Neutron stars. Masses and radii of neutron stars. Pulsars. Observations.

Transferable skills

Example classes, Tutorials.

Reading Lists

** General Text
L.D. Landau and E.M. Lifshitz (1969) Statistical Physics Addison-Wesley,

A.B. Carlson Communication Systems McGraw-Hill 0071005609
Applebaum Probability and Information C.U.P. 0521555280
F. Mandl Statistical Physics Wiley
Shapiro and Teukolsky Black Holes, White Dwarfs and Neutron Stars Wiley 0471873160


This module is at CQFW Level 7