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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Internal energy according to the van der Waals equation

I am trying to derive the internal energy of a gas which obeys the van der Waals equation. I have however encountered some problems. I calculate the integral of $dU$ from $V=0,T=0$ to $V=V, T=\infty$ ...
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1answer
165 views

greenhouse trap and perpetual motion

Greenhouse gases keep the planets warmer than they normally would. But, as with electrons trapping photons, I feel that thermodynamics is violated here. Is the violation allowed if energy is trapped ...
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2answers
1k views

How does blow-drying a mirror keep it from steaming up again?

After a hot shower, the mirror in my bathroom steams up. When I try to clear it with a towel, it immediately refogs. Yet once I use my hair-dryer, it will clear the fog and the mirror will stay clear. ...
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1answer
452 views

If a microwave oven disk rotates to warm up food, why doesn't it go up/down/sideways?

This has been in my mind for a while... Well, actually everytime I heat any food with a greater amount of liquid in it: a microwave oven warms up food by inducing polar molecules in the food to ...
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4answers
312 views

Why does a bubble take a spherical shape?

I suspect this has something to do with thermodynamics and the isoperimetric inequality and I'm interested in a mathematical derivation of this result.
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5answers
5k views

How does Infrared Relate to heat?

I never understood the relationship between Infrared and Heat. Is IR emitted when heat is generated, is heat generated when IR is made, and how do the two relate?
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2answers
401 views

Thermal expansion is an expression of which conservation laws?

Many objects get larger as they heat up and contract as they cool down. Which conservation laws are applied to describe this phenomenon? How do they interact with each other to produce this effect?
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1answer
195 views

Reference paper to support information — energy relation ($kT \ln2 \rm\frac{J}{bit}$)

In answer to Maxwell's Demon Constant (Information-Energy equivalence) there is stated that one bit of information allows to perform $kT \cdot \ln2$ Joules of work. Which paper supports the ...
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241 views

How to “read” the temperature of an abstract system?

How can I interpret the parameter temperature $T$, if I'm not given the description of the system in terms of the equation of state, $E(S,V\ )$ or $S(E,V\ )$ and so on. In many systems it makes sense ...
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975 views

Opposite of Cryogenics

Cryogenics is related to very low temperatures, so, what is the term when referring to very high temperatures?
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852 views

Will the earth never cool, but only get hotter?

Since the earth is in a vacuum and therefore there is no thermal transfer of heat to anything else, how can it even cool down? It seems like its average temperature would always be constant, ignoring ...
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1answer
236 views

Making fire using a filled water bottle

I have seen videos where a fire was started using a water bottle filled with water. I guess the bottle acts like a convex lens that converges light to a focal point to start a fire. But why does water ...
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1answer
1k views

What is the difference between $Q=\Delta U+W$ and $\Delta U=Q+W$?

Is $Q=\Delta U+W$ for when the the work is done from the system while $\Delta U=Q+W$ is for when the work is done by the system? Will anybody explain this to me, please? When do we use $Q=\Delta ...
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3answers
933 views

Is a plasma a distinct phase of matter?

Long ago I learned that a plasma was a distinct state of matter after solid, liquid and gas, and also that it was achieved by imparting heat to a the matter. But most references describe a plasma as ...
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593 views

If I replace all my lights with LEDs will my heating costs increase?

A number of nations are passing bills to phase out incandescent light bulbs. The thinking is that the tungsten filament is an inefficient method of turning electricity into light, the rest of the ...
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3answers
985 views

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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2answers
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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3answers
9k views

Entropy Change During Reversible Processes

I'm confused about the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Second Law of Thermodynamics prohibits a decrease in the entropy of a closed system and states that the entropy is unchanged during a ...
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3answers
631 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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309 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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1answer
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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2answers
490 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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1answer
102 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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293 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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3answers
247 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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74 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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2answers
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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2answers
2k 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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2answers
150 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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1answer
439 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
757 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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4answers
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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2answers
453 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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66 views

Questions on Carnot's theorem

This article on Carnot's theorem states that All heat engines between two heat reservoirs are less efficient than a Carnot heat engine operating between the same reservoirs. However, it only ...
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933 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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2answers
88 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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2answers
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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1answer
126 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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2answers
110 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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2answers
193 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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2answers
837 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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3answers
272 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
154 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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3answers
303 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
799 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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2answers
231 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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3answers
6k views

How much energy in form of heat does a human body emit?

How much energy in form of heat does a human body emit at rest level?