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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A formal procedure for thermodynamic relations

This is my third time taking a thermodynamics course (two in undergrad, one in grad), and I've finally become frustrated enough about something to post on here. A lot of thermodynamic questions want ...
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Self Stirring Boiling Liquid

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were brewing a new batch of beer. We boil our wort in a turkey fryer. Pretty standard setup for beginners. Anyway, our wort was getting pretty close to boiling ...
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463 views

Is there a true parallel between Gibbs' phase rule and Euler's polyhedral formula?

Gibbs' phase rule states: $$F=C-P+2$$ where $F$ is number of degrees of freedom, $C$ is number of components, $P$ is number of phases. Euler's polyhedral formula states: $$V+F-E=2$$ where $V$ is ...
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292 views

Local temperature equation for a planet

After seeing in science fiction too many planets with two suns that look too much like a geocentric system, I'm trying for my own amusement to understand if it's really possible to have a planet with ...
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278 views

Does the radius of the Universe correspond to its total entropy?

I heard a claim that due to holographic principle, the surface area of the cosmic horizon corresponds to the universe's total entropy. As such the initial state had zero surface area and later ...
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Why does a thermometer in wind not show a lower temperature than one shielded from it?

I'm a little familiar with the physics and thermodynamics of the wind chill effect, but this question seems to come up from time to time: Why, given two temperature sensors or thermometers in the ...
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What is entropy really?

On this site, change in entropy is defined as the amount of energy dispersed divided by the absolute temperature. But I want to know: What is the definition of entropy? Here, entropy is defined as ...
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Crash course in classical thermodynamics

I've been working on some projects lately where it would be very handy to know more about thermodynamics than I do, but sadly I never had a chance to take a proper thermodynamics course in college. ...
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Is it possible to increase temperature of sun using radiation of sun itself?

We know that we can focus radiation of sun and can burn a paper. If we think of this thought experiment, will that happen? If someone constructs a concave mirror on the sun and concentrate radiation ...
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Light “diode” and 2nd law of thermodynamics

If I had a light "diode" - an object that only allowed light (at least for a range of frequencies) to travel through it in one direction, would this necessarily allow violations of the 2nd Law of ...
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How many fixed points does a Kelvin scale have?

I have a book that says: In the absolute Kelvin scale, the triple point of water is assigned the value of 273.16 K. The absolute zero is taken as the other fixed point. But, then another ...
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Does turning a spoon in water raise the temperature?

I read about Joule's experiment proving the transformation of mechanical work into heat. But say I have a bowl with some water, and I start turning a spoon in it very fast, thus doing work — the ...
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Why do lightbulbs continue to glow after the light is turned off?

I've noticed that whenever I turn the lamp off in my room at night, the lightbulb seems to continue to glow for a minute or so after that. It's not bright though; the only way I even notice it is if ...
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Why do power lines sag when they are heated up?

I was reading some information about the 2003 power blackout in the Northeastern US. Beginning early in the afternoon of August 14, 2003 big transmission lines began to fail in First Energy's ...
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How efficient is a desktop computer?

As I understand it (and admittedly it's a weak grasp), a computer processes information irreversibly (AND gates, for example), and therefore has some minimum entropy increase associated with its ...
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Best way to chill a cup of coffee with cold water and 5 minutes [duplicate]

Initial data 1 x 3/4 full cup of hot coffee / tea / your favorite morning beverage cold water 5 minutes Considering that it's starting to get hot outside, and we all want to drink reasonably cold ...
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Why is it natural to look for solutions involving dimensionless quantities?

While studying the Heat Equation, I got stuck in a statement in my book. It says: We have seen that the combination of variables $\displaystyle \frac{x}{\sqrt{Dt}}$ is not only invariant with ...
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847 views

In counting degrees of freedom of a linear molecule, why is rotation about the axis not counted?

I was reading about the equipartition theorem and I got the following quotations from my books: A diatomic molecule like oxygen can rotate about two different axes. But rotation about the axis ...
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Why does heat added to a system at a lower temperature cause higher entropy increase?

Entropy is defined in my book as $\Delta\ S = \frac{Q}{T}$. To derive the formula it says that entropy should be directly proportional to the heat energy as with more energy the particles would be ...
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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 ...
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What would actually happen to a person jettisoned into space?

Alright, so we have all seen the movies where someone gets blasted out of the airlock on their starship, or their suit decompresses while on a space walk. The poor schmoe usually either decompresses ...
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Can low-gravity planets sustain a breathable atmosphere?

If astronauts could deliver a large quantity of breathable air to somewhere with lower gravity, such as Earth's moon, would the air form an atmosphere, or would it float away and disappear? Is there a ...
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Why was the universe in a extraordinarily low-entropy state right after the big bang?

Let me start by saying that I have no scientific background whatsoever. I am very interested in science though and I'm currently enjoying Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos. I'm at chapter 7 and ...
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Thermodynamic equilibrium - will the piston move?

Friend asked me this question and I didn't manage to solve it with basic thermodynamic reasoning. I believe this problem is easly solvable via numeric methods by choosing specific systems, though I ...
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816 views

Does electricity have an associated entropy?

One can certainly measure entropy changes associated with the generation of electricity, but does electricity itself have an associated entropy (maybe related to voltage, current etc.)?
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What's the difference between different speeds of sound?

In astrophysics, I often come across the speed of sound. I understand that, broadly, it represents the speed at which perturbations travel through a medium. But there's more than one speed of sound. ...
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608 views

Energy from man-made tornadoes

Peter Thiel just paid $300,000 to Canadian inventor Louis Michaud who is working to construct useful "man-made tornadoes" or "atmospheric vortex engines" which could be components of future power ...
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Are specific heat and thermal conductivity related?

Are there any logical relationship between specific heat capacity and thermal conductivity ? I was wondering about this when I was reading an article on whether to choose cast iron or aluminium ...
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424 views

Will entropy continue to increase even if the universe begins to contract?

If the universe is heading for a big crunch, when the universe starts to collapse will entropy decrease and the arrow of time consequently reverse or not? I'm interested in the explanations, not just ...
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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 ...
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626 views

Thermodynamically possible to hide a Dyson sphere?

You build a Dyson sphere around a star to capture all its energy. The outer surface of the Dyson sphere still radiates heat at much higher temperature than the cold space background, so you're easy to ...
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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 ...
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792 views

Quantum entaglement and the arrow of time

I have seen several claims to that quantum mechanics is required to explain the arrow of time which I take to mean the macroscopic irreversibility of physical systems. This is presumably to resolve ...
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Why is compressible flow near the choke point so efficient?

Imagine a steady state, one-dimensional, compressible flow in a horizontal pipe of constant cross sectional area. This flow can be isothermal, adiabatic (Fanno), or diabatic (Rayleigh). As an ...
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Why is the second law of thermodynamics indisputable? [duplicate]

Why is the second law of thermodynamics undisputable? On his website Professor Hawking says the following: The cosmologist, Sir Arthur Eddington, once said, 'Don't worry if your theory doesn't ...
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How badly could someone be injured by concentrated sunlight?

Recently-ish, I stumbled across an interesting short story (by way of Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange) where a soccer referee is apparently incinerated by concentrated sunlight. Where ...
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Do photons lose energy while travelling through space? Or why are planets closer to the sun warmer?

My train of thought was the following: The Earth orbiting the Sun is at times 5 million kilometers closer to it than others, but this is almost irrelevant to the seasons. Instead, the temperature ...
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Why is pale coloured skin said to absorb more UV?

Many resources state that light skin/pale skin absorbs more UV than dark-colour skin. Doesn't black absorb maximum radiation? For an example, see this article: Natural selection therefore ...
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Why does the gas get cold when I spray it?

When you spray gas from a compressed spray, the gas gets very cold, even though, the compressed spray is in the room temperature. I think, when it goes from high pressure to lower one, it gets cold, ...
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781 views

Why does large curvature of spacetime imply high temperature?

I`ve just stumbled about a sentence which says that high curvature of spacetime implies that any matter present is at high temperature. This somehow confuses me, so my probably dumb question(s) are: ...
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928 views

How hot is the water in the pot?

Question: How hot is the water in the pot? More precisely speaking, how can I get a temperature of the water as a function of time a priori? Background & My attempt: Recently I started spend ...
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Milk or sugar first to maximize temperature of a hot cup of tea?

If there is a hot cup of tea and we were asked to add milk and sugar, which mixing order would make the hottest tea? I personally think that the order doesn't matter, since sugar wouldn't change the ...
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Perpetual motion machine of the second kind possible in nano technology?

First of all sorry for my English - it is not my native language. During my engineering studies at the university the thermodynamics professor told us that the "second law of thermodynamics is not ...
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973 views

Is temperature of a single molecule defined? [duplicate]

Is temperature of a single molecule defined? This question just cropped up in my mind as I have often heard of laws being violated when it comes to the scale of a single molecule. Does this happen in ...
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9k views

Does tea stay hotter with the milk in it?

A little thought experiment, similar to this one: Imagine you are making a cup of tea when the door bell rings. You've poured the boiling water into a cup with a teabag in it. As you're just about to ...
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Is energy the ability to do work?

Here was my argument against this, the second law of thermodynamics, in effect says that, there is no heat engine that can take all of some energy that was transferred to it by heat and do work on ...
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15k views

Can entropy be equal to zero?

I've searched for it but I only found contradicting answers from "scientists": Dr. David Balson, Ph.D. states: "entropy in a system can never be equal to zero". Sam Bowen does not refutes the ...
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16k views

Why does maximal entropy imply equilibrium?

From a purely thermodynamical point of view, why does that entropy have to be a maximum at equilibrium? Say there is equilibrium, i.e. no net heat flow, why can the entropy not be sitting at a ...
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What happens to ice cream when you stir it?

I hope this is the appropriate forum for my question. I also considered posting it in the chemistry forum. When I eat ice cream I often stir it into a texture similar to that of soft serve. During ...
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Which direction does air flow?

I remember learning this in high school, but have forgotten it, and can't seem to find it anywhere online. Air travels from areas of high pressure to low pressure...correct? So if I have a cold room ...