**Thermal Equilibrium** is a very useful concept in physics: almost everything we teach our students, from undergrad thermodynamics to graduate level statistical mechanics, is equilibrium statistical mechanics. Unfortunately, many systems of interest - from life to lasers - are **far** from equilibrium. We are interested in such systems.

Cynics would say that we are interested in all systems except for those in thermal equilibrium. They are, of course, wrong: we are often interested in equilibrium systems as well!

Here is my Google Scholar page.