I sat in this course because I want to learn nonequilibrium statistical mechanics. I had a decent taste of the topic I wanted to hear, and much more.
The course began with review of thermodynamics and equilibrium statistical mechanics, and their applications in polymers (biomolecules) and phase transition (DNA helix-coil transition). It then dived in stochastic chemical kinetics (enzymes dynamics) and biological engines before finally reaching the topic of nonequilibrium mechanics, which covers Langevin equation, fluctuation and dissipation theorem, Smoluchowski equation and Kramer’s theory, and chemical master equations. The course ended with a survey of microscopy and spectroscopy techniques, and brief introduction to electron transfers and gene expressions in living cells. As you can tell, the range of topics is enormous.
A self-professed conceptual person, Prof. Xie provides just enough mathematical details to wet one’s appetite. But because all the equations are presented through Powerpoint slides, the pace of the lectures is fast. In this sense, the whole course is a big survey course on topics related to single molecule biophysics. Frankly, the course isn’t for everyone, except if you know what you are looking for.