@inproceedings{e088d220020a498cb944b0105740e037,

title = "Identifying student difficulties with conflicting ideas in statistical mechanics",

abstract = "In statistical mechanics there are two quantities that directly relate to the probability that a system at a temperature fixed by a thermal reservoir has a particular energy. The density of states function is related to the multiplicity of the system and indicates that occupation probability increases with energy. The Boltzmann factor is related to the multiplicity of the reservoir and indicates that occupation probability decreases with energy. This seems contradictory until one remembers that a complete probability distribution is determined by the total multiplicity of the system and its surroundings, requiring the product of these two functions. We present evidence from individual and group interviews that students knew how each of these functions relates to multiplicity but did not recognize the need to combine the two to characterize the physical scenario.",

author = "Smith, {Trevor I.} and Mountcastle, {Donald B.} and Thompson, {John R.}",

note = "Funding Information: We thank members of UMaine Physics Education Research Laboratory and the Dickinson College Research & Development Committee. Portions of this work supported by NSF Grant DUE-0817282.; 2012 Physics Education Research Conference, PERC 2012 ; Conference date: 01-08-2012 Through 02-08-2012",

year = "2013",

doi = "10.1063/1.4789733",

language = "English (US)",

series = "AIP Conference Proceedings",

publisher = "American Institute of Physics Inc.",

pages = "386--389",

editor = "Rebello, {N. Sanjay} and Engelhardt, {Paula V.} and Churukian, {Alice D.}",

booktitle = "2012 Physics Education Research Conference",

}