Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The power of mean-field theory (and van der Waals)

Todays lecture is the first of several dealing with critical points and universality. I will start with a treatment of the van der Waals equation of state and show how with the Maxwel equal area construction it can capture at a semi-quantitative level the thermodynamics of the liquid-vapour transition.
The video of the critical point of carbon dioxide from the Encyclopedia of Physics Demonstrations is really cool. Unfortunately, I have not found anything comparable on Youtube yet.
At some point I also want to
-discuss how van der Waals is really a mean-field theory
-find a decent image for decaffeination of coffee by supercritical carbon dioxide .

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