Robert Finkel is a theoretical physicist (Ph.D., New York University, 1966) and has been Professor and Chairman of the Physics Department at St. John’s University in New York for nearly thirty years. Bob publishes research papers in quantum theory, physical chemistry, and biological physics and authored a book-of-the-month club selection The New Brainbooster, a guide to techniques for effective learning.
Students rate their professors on a website that includes many remarks attesting to Bob’s popularity as a lecturer:
“Best teacher period!!!!”
“Hands down one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.”
“Dr. Finkel is the man. He teaches it and makes it seem so simple … he has such a great amount to offer.”
“I love his stories. Who would name his dog Quantum? He is really, really funny.”
Bob initiated and directed the online studies program and developed engineering and biomedical engineering curricula at St. John’s. His contributions were recognized with St. John’s Teaching and Research award and the Outstanding Faculty Achievement Medal. As a visiting scientist at the C.N.Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics in Stony Brook, Bob developed a theory of quantum biology that is the focus of much of his current research.
Statistical Mechanics: A 50 Minute Outline
Statistical mechanics is a simple but profound theory whereby gross properties of matter can be calculated from properties of its molecular constituents. Even more impressive is the converse whereby gross features like pressure and heat capacity can provide a window into the materials’ molecular underpinnings. Despite its power and beauty statistical mechanics is too often presented as a collection of special techniques without a global unifying theme. Here we outline that global theme as a simple application of information theory to physical and chemical systems. Specifying all known information about the system as “the whole truth” and minimizing spurious information as “nothing but the truth” will characterize any application. We indicate that the global information approach can be adapted to treating nonequilibrium systems.
Alive! Life as a State of Matter
How does a living cell function as a coordinated whole while it consists of astronomical numbers of different types of interacting molecules? How does it maintain its integrity under environmental perturbations? From the prospective of physical chemistry, these questions suggest that life is a distinct state of matter characterized by cooperative chemical behavior. However, classical statistical mechanics does not explain the persistence and coherence of reactions necessary for life. Some investigators propose that quantum physics plays a nontrivial role in biology in order to overcome the inadequacies of classical models. We embrace this view and outline a physical theory that addresses the fundamental questions and reproduces some experimental results.