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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Why the free energy is called 'free'?

The free energy, $F$ of a thermodynamic system at a given temperature $T$, is defined as, \begin{equation} e^{-\beta F} = \mathcal{Z} = \sum_{\{configuration\}} e^{-\beta E(configuration) } ...
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3k views

Increase thermal efficiency of combustion engine by using heat of coolant/exhaust?

I can't be the only one who's ever thought of this, but obviously it hasn't caught on: In terms of energy density, fossil fuels are the best thing around short of enriched uranium (and, flammability ...
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1answer
1k views

Confused about fire?

Im confused about fire. The way I see it : Heat creates (kinetic) energy in mass and this creates stronger vibrations of atoms. When those vibrations are strong enough the electrons interact ...
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624 views

Less than absolute zero possible? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Temperature below absolute zero? According to this article http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6115/52 (preprint: http://arxiv.org/abs/1211.0545) it is. What do you ...
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304 views

Why is there more steam when water is subject to less fire?

When I cook things, such as scallop and salmon, I found that the food may be more tender if I wait till the water boils (at 100 C) and immediately turn the fire lower so that the water is not bubbling ...
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2k views

Will adding cold water to a hot iron pan harm it? Why/why not?

Adding cold water to a aluminum pan can be harmful. Is this same with iron pan too? How can it be explained?
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479 views

Question about entropy and “smart materials” (that remember shape)

We all know that entropy is the measure of chaos in the system, and it's always increasing in the system. Now comes my question - how does entropy work in smart materials? Here is a youtube video ...
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77 views

How much heating Earth inner core provide to the surface?

Compare to the energy that the Earth surface receives from the sun, how much power comes from the inner melted core ? How important is this contribution to the surface temperature ?
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261 views

Does placing a cold bottle next to an incubator cool the incubator through convection or radiation?

Context for question: My girlfriend who is studying to be a nurse asked me to explain the difference between radiation and convection in context of the above question. My answer: Radiation is the ...
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236 views

Why is Entropy's Definition Useful?

I have somewhat of an understanding for other physical quantities, but as far as entropy goes I only know it to be "disorder". Why is the change in entropy formula an appropriate/useful definition, ...
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72 views

Invariance of Temperature in Classical Physics

How can we explain that Temperature is a classically frame-independent quantity to high school kids?
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4k views

What causes the vacuum in my bento box?

I can't think of a good title for my post, sorry about that. I've got a lunch box (called a bento box) Basically it's a plastic box with a plastic lid with a rubber rim around the lid to create an ...
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157 views

May molecules of ideal gases have an inner structure?

The following question is probably very elementary: whether molecules of ideal gases may have optic properties? As far as I understand, when one discusses optic properties, one assumes that molecules ...
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5k views

Microwaves vs Gas or Electric Coil heating of a water boiler in a typical household

Wouldn't it be more energy efficient and or safe to use microwaves to heat our home's water boiler instead of using dangerous gas or hot electric coils that could catch other things on fire? I'm kinda ...
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1k views

Are information conservation and energy conservation related?

as evident from the title, are both, conservation of energy and conservation of information two sides of the same coin?? Is there something more to the hypothesis of hawking's radiation other than ...
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149 views

Does it make sense to have a theory of thermodynamics about coldness?

When someone comes in from the cold to a heated room, it sometimes feels like there is coldness radiating away from that person. Is there a sense in which we can say that coldness radiates similarly ...
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435 views

Using heat energy to increase temperature

It's been a long time since I studied thermodynamics in college years ago, but I was just wondering this: I know that a large bathtub of 10 C water has more heat energy than a small cup of 20 C ...
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2answers
749 views

Limit on geothermal energy that could be extracted before the earth's magnetic field collapsed?

This is more of a theoretical thought-experiment question. Basically, how much geothermal energy can we extract before the loss of the magnetic field makes it a terribly bad idea? Will the ...
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3k views

Can heat be transfered via magnetic field in a vacuum?

Say you want to store hot coffee in a container surrounded by a vacuum. To remove all sources of conductive energy loss the container is suspended in the vacuum by a magnetic field and does not have a ...
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452 views

Specific heat and temperature

This is a two-part question... Firstly, models of the specific heat capacity $C$ (i.e. Debye, Einstein) in relation to the temperature $T$ give $C$ as steadily increasing with $T$. I assume that the ...
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4answers
925 views

Does stopping the same bike and rider at the same velocity with the front brake require less energy than the back brake?

It's the same body made by the rider and the bike moving at the same speed. So, even though braking on the front/back alters the normal forces on the opposite wheels thus creating more friction with ...
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80 views

Resonance in Benzene violating Second Law of Thermodynamics

In chemistry a few months ago we were taught the resonant structure of benzene, that states the double bonds upon the six carbon atoms flicker back and forth between the two possible states it can be ...
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329 views

Existence of gusts of wind, an anomaly?

Enthusiast + Student, not a pro, so pardon my ignorance. How can wind possibly flow in gusts? The way I understand it, a gust is a pocket of air which hits you at slightly higher speed. But how ...
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105 views

What is thermal radiation? How does it move through space?

Assume that by some mysterious(at the lack of a better word) way I was able to make a bonfire on the moon and was able to sit next to it without a space suit. I will not be able to feel the heat form ...
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101 views

Is Boltzmann distribution contradicting with the fundamental assumption of statistical thermodynamics?

In equilibrium statistical physics the fundamental assumption of statistical thermodynamics states that the occupation of any microstate is equally probable (i.e. $p_i=1/\Omega, S=-k_B\sum p_i\,{\rm ...
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179 views

What would a graph of temperature increase of a cup of water in a microwave look like?

My lunch had been in the microwave for a minute or so, and I was wondering if I took it out 10 seconds early, would the amount of temperature it increased in that 10 seconds be more significant, less ...
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790 views

Glass tends to be cold?

In winter, our glass window serves as a separator of coldness outside and warmth inside our room. We know that the window feels cold when we touch it. Since the air temperature is different in ...
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263 views

How to combat the black-body temperature of an object?

I'm trying to model the temperature of a large spacecraft for a space colony simulation game I'm working on. In another question, I checked my calculations for the steady-state black-body temperature ...
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4answers
149 views

Why work $W$ and heat $Q$ are different concepts?

I understand heat as the flow of energy (through radiation, convection or conduction) from one body to another. When I think about conduction (for example) I visualize particles that jiggle a lot ...
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284 views

Mixing mild and cold water, which one to pour first?

Suppose for example that a person like me likes his water in-between. A bit colder than the room temperature but not very cold. If you have a water dispenser that pours rtp water and cold water, which ...
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1answer
707 views

How fast do molecules move in objects?

I guess it depends on the heat or the type of the material but can you give some examples or formulas to calculate it ? The best example would be the average speed of the air molecules (all types in ...
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224 views

Any difference between thermodynamic double-derivative and derivative “at constant” value?

Reading about the Maxwell relations has left me confused, and I want a basic sanity check regarding the notation. The Wikipedia article breezes over the following switch of notation without really ...
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1answer
113 views

Dimensional Analysis : Thermodynamics

I was coming across some notes online for phase transitions. In one of the places, the author has written the Claussius-Clayperon equation in this form, $$ \frac{d(ln P)}{d(ln T)} = \frac{T\Delta ...
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186 views

Why is a vacuum cleaner not as good heater as an electric radiator?

I've read this question and answer: How efficient is an electric heater? , but still don't understand. If I have an electric radiator it heats the room with 1000 Watts of power. And I feel the room's ...
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387 views

The cooling curve of tin during solidification

I'm going to measure the freezing point of tin by recording the cooling curve. It sounds like a dull experiment because all I have to do is to heat up the tin, wait for it to cool, and the computer ...
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1answer
579 views

How does heat energy travel in space?

How does the heat energy from the Sun reach us on the Earth? Since the kinetic energy of an atom is the amount of heat energy and there is no matter in space, how does heat from the Sun reach us?
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160 views

Is an ice globe the worst possible way to cool a drink (with ice)?

Given an alcohol solution and a mass of ice in whatever shape you like, is shaping it into a sphere the worst possible way to cool your drink without diluting it? If the ice starts off at a sub-zero ...
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377 views

Most efficient type of heat pump

Can I make a heat pump beat the Carnot efficiency? Why is the Carnot process the most efficient one? If I have a heatpump that is sphere shaped, and cascaded in layers like a onion can I beat Carnot ...
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1answer
464 views

Intuitive description of what a “Fermi Gas” really is?

This question is based in the area of material equations of state. I am wanting to know what a Fermi Gas really is. I have searched in several places for a decent description, but I have not found ...
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801 views

Shock speed in air/vacuum shock tube

Some of you are probably aware of What If, xkcd's blog about interesting physics problems. One episode, Glass Half Empty, concerns itself with what would happen if a glass of water is half water, ...
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1answer
2k views

Do materials cool down in the vacuum of space?

Do materials cool down in the vacuum of space? If yes, how does it really work?
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Why did the microwave oven only heat my coffe half as much as expected?

A sticker on my microwave oven states its output effect to be 750W, which is 180 calories per second. This means that heating 250g of water by one degree celsius would take 250/180 = 1.4s. Now, my ...
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1answer
1k views

How much oxygen would be consumed on a 1 cm squared surface which is on fire?

I'm trying to figure out how much oxygen the Human Torch produces when he is on fire. I figure if I knew how much oxygen on average (per second?) is consumed by a 1 cm squared surface which is ...
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1answer
795 views

How do I find average temperature given a temperature distribution?

I was told to find the temperature distribution of a wire with a current going through it. So I found $$T(x)=T_{\infty}-\frac{\dot{q}}{km^{2}}[\frac{cosh(mx)}{cosh(mL)}-1]$$ I need to find the ...
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1answer
1k views

How does heat transfer between two atoms in solid material?

Been looking at heat equation and it's derivation, according to Wikipedia it uses 2 mathematical assumptions. My problem is that although it all seems OK, what is the physics of heat transfer in ...
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2answers
3k views

In summer are the upper storey flats more hot or the lower storey flats?

I have often heard neighbours talking things like in a multi storied apartment, the upper flats are more hot in summer then lower flats (or vice versa?) and similarly for some comparison in winter? ...
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1answer
66 views

Is the energy per degree of freedom $\frac{1}{2}kT$ in relativistic systems?

The equipartition theorem says that the mean energy per degree of freedom is $\frac{1}{2} kT$. Is this result relativistically correct?
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88 views

Is temperature the speed of electrons?

Back in the middle school (which I guess was about 10 years ago) I remember being taught that the temperature of an atom is basically the speed of electrons circling the nucleus which kinda made sense ...
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61 views

Different materials have different temperatures?

Why do two materials, under the same weather, have different temperatures? I have a small clue about it. For example, iron and wood supposed under the sun's radiation, and if we touch both of them, ...
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1answer
106 views

The energy contribution of a frequency at finite temperature

This is from a paper I'm reading: Since each frequency contributes $\hbar \omega/2$ of energy (or at finite temperature, $\hbar \omega /2 \coth(\hbar\omega/2kT)$), we can find the energies for the ...