Covers the study of (mostly homogeneous) macroscopic systems from a heat/energy/entropy point of view. Maybe combine with [tag:statistical-mechanics].

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What is the difference between infrared heat and “regular” heat?

In Feynman's terms temperature is the speed at which atoms are 'jiggling'. Now, let's suppose I've just eaten a sizable dinner, and my body temperature just got a tad up. Am I emitting more photons in ...
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564 views

Boiling when I plunge my french press?

Occasionally when I make coffee in my french press I experience something odd. It happens pretty infrequently but certainly enough to be curious about. I have the grounds ready in the carafe. The ...
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603 views

Relation between external magnetic field intensity H, magnetisation M and the entropy?

How are the external magnetic field intensity H, magnetisation M and the entropy related to each other? i.e. if I change the magnetic field intensity by dH what will be the change in entropy dS in ...
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589 views

Intuition behind the concept of heat

Even if elementary, I'm afraid I am still not comfortable with the concept of heat. I can picture heat as some kind of incompressible fluid that is transferred from a body to another in such a way ...
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2k views

Is the efficiency of a stirling engine affected by dead volumes?

Consider the p-V diagrams of an ideal and real stirling cycle, as found here The article suggests that dead volumes reduce the efficiency of a stirling engine. On the other hand, a simple thought ...
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3k views

Why is the lid of the cookware kept on induction cooker not hot?

Induction cookware cooks food by inducing an electro magnetic field in the ferro-magnetic cookware. Since iron offers a lot of resistance to the current, the current is converted into heat in the ...
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81 views

Good references for specific heats

Does anyone know of a good reference for specific heats? It seems that it is no longer popular to publish values. I am especially interested in the specific heats of polymers.
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2k views

Questions about compressing a liquid in a piston

We were discussing super-critical fluids with a colleague and as were thinking about different thought-experiments, it occurred to me that you cannot really have only liquid in a piston in a real ...
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Evaporation from a capillary tube

Consider a capillary tube (say from a liquid / capillary thermometer), that means a tube of small internal diameter which holds liquid by capillary action . The tube is fulfilled with water and closed ...
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1k views

Energy of unmixing

Mixing of two different fluids is associated with an increase of entropy. Conversely, separation of two gases must be associated with a decrease of the entropy of the two fluids. Is there a minimum ...
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63 views

Blocks releasing heat energy [closed]

If you had two blocks, two different sizes yet the same temperature. Which one would release the most energy in the shortest amount of time and why?
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130 views

Why don't we observe spontaneous symmetry restoration in nature?

Why do we always observe spontaneous symmetry breaking in nature and not restoration? Does there exist some argument with the 2nd law of thermodynamics and the entropy of the universe increasing? If ...
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60 views

Constant Temperature Cooling

In my thermodynamics textbook there is part of a question that seems to be a contradiction. ...Superheated refrigerant R-134a at 20 C, 0.5 MPa is cooled in a piston/cylinder arrangement at constant ...
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135 views

Why does conservation of étendue matter when showing one cannot focus light to arbitrary temperatures?

The latest XKCD What-If post discusses how one cannot start a fire by focusing the light from the moon. The answer is no, for well-established reasons, but the explanation isn't watertight. Maybe ...
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230 views

Why are wooden houses warmer than concrete ones in cold regions?

Why are wooden houses warmer than concrete ones in cold regions? I went looking for data and I saw that both have similar emissivity and similar conductivity. Thus I am confused. Moreover, the ...
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116 views

Can I cook an egg by holding it in thermosphere?

It is known that in thermosphere, air temperature is rising sharply with increase of altitude. In upper atmosphere, temperatures can even reach 2000°C or higher: see 2. However, air there is ...
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58 views

Simplest form of thermodynamic cooling equation?

I'm writing a personal project program for simulating a nuclear reactor. This is not my field of expertise and what I'm struggling the most with is a good equation for cooling. Newton's law of ...
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212 views

Does the second law of thermodynamics imply a spacetime beginning of the universe?

Recently I have been studying thermodynamics and I noticed a article by a religious person which says that the second law of thermodynamics proves that the universe had a beginning. A spacetime one. ...
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100 views

Non-extensivity in a few body system

Thermodynamics finds application in many areas of physics, many of them sharing the feature of fluid-like or many-body like behavior. However, small systems or few body systems have been studied too ...
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184 views

What is the purpose of the linear approximation $\Delta L = \alpha L_0 \Delta T$?

What is the purpose of the linear approximation $\Delta L = \alpha L_0 \Delta T$? When using this, we run in all kinds of problems. For example, when a material heates up twice by 1K we get ...
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232 views

How powerful would a laser need to be to make a hole in snow?

How strong would a laser beam have to be (and what frequency would be optimal) for it to be able to make a hole in snow? Here I am looking for a laser beam that could make the hole after less than 2 ...
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176 views

Why can't irreversible process be reversed by infinitesimal steps?

Irreversible process is the one in which the system undergoes rapid change from initial state to the final state. Now, if I want to reverse the state of the system, why can't be it possible? I know ...
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194 views

Is temperature affected by gravitational potential?

Ok, I feel a bit silly asking this. I'm asking in relation to this question here on the molecular basis of hydrostatic pressure in a gas. There's been quite a bit of discussion and one of the ...
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298 views

Does leaving snow on my hot tub cover save me money?

Snow is supposedly such a good insulator, that some animals dig snow caves in which to hibernate through the winter. However, my hands seem to feel more comfortable being exposed to winter air than to ...
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153 views

How do door-less refrigerators keep cool air inside?

I got curious when I saw a door-less refrigerator for the first time. It was in a shop and I couldn't control myself so I began to look around to see how they work but I couldn't figure it out. They ...
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127 views

Dry adiabatic lifting

If an unsaturated air parcel ascends adiabatically in the atmosphere with an initial temperature, would the final temperature of the air parcel, when it reaches it's destination, be the same at the ...
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212 views

The relation between energy quanta of an Einstein solid and the equipartition value of heat capacity

Consider an Einstein solid with quantized energy values $U=q\epsilon$ and $N$ oscillators. I calculated some values of an Einstein solid numerically through a function in R (at the bottom of the ...
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568 views

How much work will a human do to lift a weight?

I saw a pretty simple homework question here that asked how much work it takes to lift a 200 kg weight, and while the math for a basic answer is simple the weightlifter in me instead wanted to ...
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614 views

Entropy of a two-level system

Consider a two-level system with energies and degeneracies $\epsilon_0 = 0, g_0=1$ and $\epsilon_1 = \epsilon, g_1=4$. I can show that the temperature at which both levels are equally populated is ...
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2k views

Is thermodynamic free energy and potential energy the same thing?

The equation for free energy $F$ and potential energy $E_{pot}$ are: $$ F=U-TS \\ E_{pot} = E_{tot} -E_{kin} $$ But the temperature $T$ is proportional to the average kinetic energy of a system. So ...
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288 views

Does the temperature of water determine how much heat will be removed from air used to evaporate it?

This is a question about evaporative cooling as used in residential evaporative cooling appliances. This type of cooling uses the heat in the ambient outside air to evaporate water and remove the heat ...
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225 views

Does one square centimenter of the sun core really radiate this amount of energy?

I have been thinking that since the core of the sun maintains its temperature at 15 million degrees Kelvin, then every cubic centimeter of this core is receiving a certain amount of energy to keep it ...
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196 views

Why formation of rain is adiabatic?

I recently went through the wikipedia page for Rain. It said that There are four main mechanisms for cooling the air to its dew point: adiabatic cooling, conductive cooling,.... It proceeds as ...
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55 views

California “firenados”

There are spectacular rotating towers of fire that can be seen in recent television images of fire in California. In this video, we see that these fire towers can rotate either clockwise or counter ...
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What is the difference between mechanical and thermodynamic pressure?

To start with I know thermodynamics deals with processes at equilibrium. Hence the thermodynamic pressure should most likely be the pressure of a fluid at equilibrium. I'm not sure if a fluid flow ...
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502 views

How do you explain the fact that when air expands freely into an evacuated chamber from a constant pressure atmosphere, its temperature increases?

I came across this paper: Baker, B. (1999). An easy to perform but often counterintuitive demonstration of gas expansion. American Journal of Physics, 67(8), 712-713. ...
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103 views

Prove identity of partial derivatives

I can not do the following problem: Prove the identity: $$\left( \frac{\partial x}{\partial y} \right)_{z}\left( \frac{\partial y}{\partial z} \right)_{x}\left( \frac{\partial z}{\partial x} ...
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235 views

Why does adding milk to my coffee produce a fractal?

Whenever I add milk to my morning coffee I often enjoy watching the patterns which are created. These patterns have a striking resemblance to certain fractals and my question is, "Why?" Oh dear, that ...
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342 views

Why does water ($\mathrm{H_2O}$) only have two distinct fluid phases?

Water (and other substances) can exist in many distinct solid phases (with different crystallic micro-structure), but only in two fluid phases - liquid and gaseous, in which the molecules are oriented ...
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136 views

Explain entropy (again)

I think I understand entropy finally. Will you verify for me? $$S = k_B \ln( \Omega)$$ where $\Omega$ (the multiplicity) is the degeneracy of the system at some energy (E)? So if the system is a ...
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1k views

Should entropy have units and temperature in terms of energy? [duplicate]

I've been thinking about entropy for a while and why it is a confusing concept and many references are filled with varying descriptions of something that is a statistical probability (arrows of time, ...
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332 views

Thermalisation - Open quantum systems

I would like to understand better a phenomenon of a quantum heat bath. Below I present one example, which seems quite clear to me. It would be great to see some less-discrete models, and more ...
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634 views

Heating coffee by yelling?

Is it a myth that yelling to a coffee mug will heat it? I have been hearing my friend saying that screaming will heat coffee or water.
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Would a small puddle of water evaporate faster if you spread a dry towel over it?

Let's say you spill 10ml of water on the kitchen counter. It forms a small puddle that would evaporate after a while (assuming room temperature and sane humidity). Would spreading a large, dry towel ...
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195 views

The heat equation in relation to smoothing algorithm

Recently I learned about a technique in image processing, which has its roots in something called the 'heat equation' from physics. The original creators of this technique were inspired by the physics ...
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661 views

How to reconcile the two definitions of work? (mechanical and thermodynamical)

When studying classical mechanics, work is defined as: $W_M=\int F_{tot} \hspace{2 mm} dx$. However, for thermodynamics, work is defined as: $W_T=\int -F_{ext} \hspace{2 mm} dx$. I'm having trouble ...
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785 views

Perfect fluids in cosmology?

In cosmology, it is often assumed that the equation of state of a cosmological fluid is of the form $p=w\rho$. Why is this? Is it the equation of a perfect fluid? Why does $w=0$ for matter $1/3$ for ...
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What are the units of these virial coefficients?

I'm reading some papers for calculating the vapor pressure of alkali metals as a function of temperature, and I've come across some familiar-looking virial expansions, but when I tried to work out the ...
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560 views

What states of matter are possible at lowest temperature?

Near absolute zero, some materials are superconductors. Other materials are superfluids. Others are Bose-Einstein Condensates. Is there a complete list of possibilities? Or is this still a research ...
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294 views

What does Metric Transitivity Mean?

Jaynes In his paper "Information theory and Statistical mechanics" says "Previously, one constructed a theory based on equations of motion, supplemented by additional hypothesis of ergodicity, ...