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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11
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6answers
11k views

Does hot air really rise?

"Heat rises" or "warm air rises" is a widely used phrase (and widely accepted phenomenon). Does hot air really rise? Or is it simply displaced by colder (denser) air pulled down by gravity?
0
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1answer
481 views

What role does gravity have on flame composition?

In 2000, Nasa conducted an experiment and found that gravity plays an indirect role in flame formation and composition (see the wikipedia article). What role does gravity play? Why does a flame ...
1
vote
2answers
949 views

Extracting heat energy from a material

Does it violate any physical laws to take a portion of the energy out of a system and use it? Specifically I'm referring to heat. (Kinetic energy). For example, if you have a material which has a lot ...
7
votes
3answers
301 views

If I take a handful of salt and wait for an infinite time will it become a single crystal?

That pretty much says it. Suppose I have some powder of $NaCl$. It is kept in contact with itself in vacuum. You are free to remove all the disturbances that bother you. Is that true that, well, ...
0
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2answers
226 views

Why are some of the biggest stars known blue?

My question refers to an overview of the biggest stars we know: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4138/4820647230_faba1c9f3b_o.jpg Why are some of those blue?
9
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1answer
304 views

Is almost all entropy in our universe entanglement entropy?

Our observable universe, or a subregion of our universe many times larger than the observable universe, originated from inflating from a very tiny inflationary patch. Being so small, the initial ...
2
votes
2answers
837 views

What is more efficient: Add milk, and then heat up coffee in the microwave, or microwave than milk?

Adding milk first increases the volume to heat and lowers average temerature, but adding it afterwards seems to have similar effects. How can you compare the two?
-1
votes
1answer
361 views

Amount of free energy in the Earth-ionosphere waveguide

How much free energy is there in the Earth-ionosphere waveguide resulting from the constant bombardment of lightning strikes all over the Earth, and how do you go about calculating an estimate for it? ...
-1
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1answer
439 views

The difference between free energy and perpetual motion [closed]

What is the difference between free energy (over unity) and perpetual motion? Please provide some examples, both real world and theoretical.
3
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1answer
349 views

The full entropy quote

What is the full text (and possibly the source) of the summary of the 3 laws of thermodynamics that goes something along the lines of "Can't break even, can't win and can't even stop playing the ...
10
votes
7answers
1k views

References about rigorous thermodynamics

Can you suggest some references for rigorous treatment of thermodynamics? I want things like reversibility, equilibrium to be clearly defined in terms of the basic assumptions of the framework.
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vote
3answers
587 views

Why isn't pressure a measure of energy?

Hey guys, I'm having a problem in understanding the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. If i would increase the pressure of a closed system by compressing a gas in a cylinder isothermal, the 1.Law states, ...
324
votes
19answers
122k views

Cooling a cup of coffee with help of a spoon

During the breakfast with my colleagues, a question popped into my head: What is the fastest method to cool a cup of coffee, if your only available instrument is a spoon? A qualitative answer would ...
13
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4answers
1k views

How slow is a reversible adiabatic expansion of an ideal gas?

A truly reversible thermodynamic process needs to be infinitesimally displaced from equilibrium at all times and therefore takes infinite time to complete. However, if I execute the process slowly, I ...
2
votes
3answers
199 views

Colder surface radiates to warmer surface

When radiation from a colder source arrives at a warmer surface there is some debate about what happens next. To make the question more concrete lets say that the colder source is at temperature 288K. ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Pressure drop in a pipe due to cooling

I’m trying to better my understanding of the thermodynamics and momentum balance of pipe flows. The following situation, however, is making me scratch my head and I’ve found no help in my books. ...
5
votes
2answers
406 views

Can the work done between two non-equilibrium states be calculated?

The work done during a process between two equilibrium states can be described by thermodynamics. Even when process itself is out of equilibrium, the thermodynamic laws can still be used, though ...
9
votes
3answers
684 views

Is there a relativistic (quantum) thermodynamics?

Does a relativistic version of quantum thermodynamics exist? I.e. in a non-inertial frame of reference, can I, an external observer, calculate quantities like magnetisation within the non-inertial ...
5
votes
1answer
465 views

Estimating hydrogen loss by Jeans escape

I'm looking at Jeans (thermal) escape of hydrogen from the early Earth's atmosphere. I understand how to calculate the rate in (g cm^-2 s^-1) using the number density, average particle velocity, and ...
1
vote
1answer
266 views

How to vizualize a heat pump microscopically?

Hey guys, while learning thermodynamics i wondered how a the principle of a heat pump would look at a microscopic level, not on a quantum mechanical level. I learned that when a hot and a less hot ...
4
votes
2answers
227 views

Why are the lighter halogens gases?

In the periodic table of the elements, only a few of the elements are gases at standard temperature and pressure. Those elements include the noble gases some of the halogens, and a few of the elements ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Can a single classical particle have any entropy?

recently I have had some exchanges with @Marek regarding entropy of a single classical particle. I always believed that to define entropy one must have some distribution. In Quantum theory, a single ...
2
votes
5answers
640 views

Why is everything floating in space so cold?

Of course there is pretty hot stuff too. For example Suns. But isn't the vacuum of space the perfect containment for heat? And shouldn't the rare collision with particles even heat up an object that ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

Physical meaning of Legendre transformation

I would like to know the physical meaning of the Legendre transformation, if there is any? I've used it in thermodynamics and classical mechanics and it seemed only a change of coordinates?
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Could life survive a pole shift caused by an asteroid collision?

Could life on earth survive a large pole shift caused by an asteroid collision? I became aware that there are people who believe that the earth's pole suddenly shifts. That is, its rotational ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does the low entropy at the big bang require an explanation? (cosmological arrow of time)

I have read Sean Carrol's book. I have listened to Roger Penrose talk on "Before the Big Bang". Both are offering to explain the mystery of low entropy, highly ordered state, at the Big Bang. Since ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is there more steam after a pot of water *stops* boiling?

I have a pot of vigorously boiling water on a gas stove. There's some steam, but not alot. When I turn off the gas, the boiling immediately subsides, and a huge waft of steam comes out. This is ...
4
votes
1answer
152 views

Boltzman distribution for chemical potentials

I read that if we have a system with two co-existing phases with chemical potentials respectively $\mu_1$ and $\mu_2$ then, at the equilibrium, the concentrations $X_1$ and $X_2$ are related by the ...
2
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1answer
1k views

Do my noodles cook quicker when the water is boiling or when it is just about to boil?

I was just cooking some noodles and staring at the pot waiting for them to cook made me wonder... Will my food cook quicker when the water is boiling and bubbling, or when it is at a temperature where ...
5
votes
1answer
144 views

Dropping condition

Imagine opening a water tap in order to have a smooth and cylindrical outflow and then slowly decrease the flow by adjusting the knob. At a certain moment, the side profile of the flow will become ...
2
votes
1answer
218 views

Solar heating of an object in air

I need a solution to the heat equation that shows temp increase in an object, e.g. a cube or sphere, in sunlight. The object is assumed to be exposed on all sides except one. It is a solid object ...
2
votes
1answer
482 views

Maximum pressure at a compressor outlet and molecular weight

I am puzzled by some data I see for a compressor. From what I read, the maximum discharge pressure reachable with a reciprocal compressor would vary depending on the nature of the gas used, and its ...
4
votes
6answers
905 views

Can gravitational potential energy be released in a fire?

If one takes a bundle of wood up high to the mountains so its potential energy increases, would there be obtained more heat by burning it?
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vote
4answers
201 views

Cooling via the quantum vacuum?

Suppose you had an isolated cloud of gas at a low temperature in a vacuum with no external sources of radiation (e.g. no CMB). The gas would clearly cool via the emission of low-energy photons. But ...
6
votes
5answers
865 views

What would ACTUALLY happen to a person jettisoned into space?

[insert obligatory statement of my lack of knowledge in physics] Alright, so we have all seen the movies where someone gets blasted out of the airlock on their starship, or their suit decompresses ...
2
votes
3answers
192 views

What is planetary surface temperature given constant sub-surface temperature?

If a planet of radius R1 has a constant sub-surface temperature T0 at R0 < R1, what is the long-term equilibrium surface temperature T1? Say we assume constant thermal diffusivity of the planet ...
1
vote
1answer
198 views

Why do regular lattice elements heat up faster?

For example iron. A metal spoon heats up much quicker than a wooden/plastic one. Why?
14
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6answers
931 views

Do all massive bodies emit Hawking radiation?

It is known that any accelerated observer is subject to a heat bath due to Unruh radiation. The principle of equivalence suggests that any stationary observer on the surface of a massive body should ...
4
votes
4answers
904 views

Decompressing gas whilst driving a turbine - where does the energy come from?

Here's the situation: a friend is working on a civil engineering project to make some equipment to decompress liquefied natural gas before pumping to households. I don't know what the proper term for ...
8
votes
1answer
832 views

What temperature can you attain with a solar furnace?

A solar furnace is a device that concentrates the sun's light on a small point to heat it up to high temperature. One can imagine that in the limit of being completely surrounded by mirrors, your ...
3
votes
4answers
811 views

What are the arguments towards the Life-and-Entropy relation?

I've heard it from a few people, and I've seen it popup here in the site a couple of times. There seems to be speculation (and studies?) towards this idea, and this is what I've picked up so far: ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

Difference between thermodynamics and statistical mechanics

I've just finished a class a few weeks ago which taught thermo and stat mech, and I still don't know the exact difference between the two. Can someone help clear this up for me? (Yeah it's sad, and ...
63
votes
16answers
111k views

How Does Mass Leave the Body When you Lose Weight?

When your body burns calories and you lose weight, obviously mass is leaving your body. In what form does it leave? In other words, what is the physical process by which the body loses weight when ...
5
votes
2answers
537 views

Experiments that measure the time a gas takes to reach equilibrium

If you take two ideal gases at different temperatures, and allow them to share energy through heat, they'll eventually reach a thermodynamic equilibrium state that has higher entropy than the ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does a slight drip of water protect pipes from freezing?

I've heard that turning on faucets to a slight drip will prevent pipes from freezing, but I've never understood why this is the case. Can anyone out there help me to understand? Thanks!
3
votes
3answers
6k views

How does watering your plants help protect against freezing?

I've always heard that watering plants if the temperature goes a few degrees below freezing will help prevent them from freezing, but I've never quite understood the physics behind it. Can you guys ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

How cold does it need to be for spit to freeze before hitting the ground?

What is the dominant form of heat transfer between warm water and cold air? If a $100 mg$ drop of water falls through $-40 C$ air, how quickly could it freeze? Is it credible that in very cold ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there an equation for convective heat transfer?

Is there an equation I can use to calculate the temperature (as a function of time) of an object which is gaining or losing heat by convection? Or equivalently, the rate of energy transfer from the ...
6
votes
3answers
275 views

Is there a number that describes a gas's departure from the ideal gas law?

When judging if relativity is important in a given phenomenon, we might examine the number $v/c$, with $v$ a typical velocity of the object. If this number is near one, relativity is important. In ...
6
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5answers
1k views

How does the temperature of the triple point of water depend on gravitational acceleration?

Suppose I do two experiments to find the triple point of water, one in zero-g and one on Earth. On Earth, water in the liquid or solid phase has less gravitational potential per unit mass than water ...