This fall I'm teaching Statistical and Thermal Physics, a senior (in the most common Rice physics curriculum, anyway) undergraduate course, and once again I'm struck by the power and profundity of the material. Rather like quantum, stat mech can be a difficult course to teach and to take; from the student perspective, you're learning a new vocabulary, a new physical intuition, and some new mathematical tools. Some of the concepts are rather slippery and may be difficult to absorb at a first hearing. Still, the subject matter is some of the best intellectual content in physics: you learn about some of the reasons for the "demise" of classical physics (the Ultraviolet Catastrophe; the heat capacity problem), major foundational issues (macroscopic irreversibility and the arrow of time; the precise issue where quantum mechanics and general relativity are at odds (or, as I like to call it, "Ultraviolet Catastrophe II: Electric Boogaloo")), and the meat of some of the hottest topics in current physics (Fermi gases and their properties; Bose Einstein condensation). Beyond all that you also get practical, useful topics like thermodynamic cycles, how engines and refrigerators work, chemical equilibria, and an intro to phase transitions. Someone should write a popular book about some of this, along the lines of Feynman's QED. If only there were enough hours in the day (and my nano book was further along). Anyway, I bring this up because over time I'm thinking about doing a series of blog posts at a popular level about some of these topics. We'll see how it goes.