4
votes
0answers
68 views

Intuitively, why does removing solutes cost $k_B T$ of free energy per molecule?

I can calculate that if you want to, for example, desalinate water, you will have to pay a free energy cost of $k_B T$ for each ion you remove. In other words, removing an ion from a volume of water ...
2
votes
1answer
211 views

Why do some liquid metals have anomalously-high surface tension/heat of vaporization ratios?

In a didactic article, Victor Weisskopf estimated the size of molecules in a liquid from measurements of their surface tension and heat of vaporization. If atoms are exceedingly small, then only a ...
9
votes
2answers
928 views

Why do mirages only appear on hot days?

A previous question asked why the road sometimes appears wet on hot days. The reason is that when there's a temperature gradient in the air, it causes a gradient in the index of refraction, causing ...
8
votes
3answers
611 views

How can we make an order-of-magnitude estimate of the strength of Earth's magnetic field?

The source of Earth's magnetic field is a dynamo driven by convection current in the molten core. Using some basic physics principles (Maxwell's equations, fluid mechanics equations), properties of ...