Once upon a time, long before I ever moved to Iowa or started teaching creative writing courses, I thought I was going to be a physicist. But I was the kind of physics student who occasionally got tired of doing math all day and would take a week off to write a story or make a wireframe sculpture or do large scale papercraft. Anything creative rather than analytical. I eventually followed those impulses out of the physical sciences and into my current position.
Now, though, I find my situation reversed; I spend my days thinking about literature and aesthetics, and discover that I am the kind of creative writing professor who intermittently longs to dust off his calculus. From time to time I’ve been pulling some of my favorite physics and math textbooks off the shelf and recreationally doing a couple of problems, but I’ve noticed that just jumping in and solving things is getting harder. My physics and math is atrophying from disuse. So I’ve decided to get more systematic about this. I’m going to set aside a day of the week for brushing up on the subjects that most interest me, starting with thermodynamics. Welcome to Thermo Thursday.
I’ll be using the book An Introduction to Thermal Physics by Daniel V. Schroeder, which I remember thinking highly of back when it was assigned in college. Every Thursday I’ll work through some sections of the book, synopsize the key concepts and work some problems here. (This will hopefully also give me a chance to brush up my LaTeX skills.) My math may be rusty enough that I reach a point where I have to stop the physics and refresh my fundamentals on more basic concepts, but I’ll deal with that problem when I get to it. Let’s get started.