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 equation of state is needed for liquid states?

I'm familiar with the ideal gas law $$PV=nRT$$ but I don't think it applies to liquids like water. If I'm wrong, please correct me! If I'm right, then what equation of state applies to liquids such ...
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Sauna thermodynamics

Why does it get hotter (feel hotter) in a sauna when one pours water over the hot stones? Wikipedia says that the water condenses onto the skin, but the actual air humidity is so low that I doubt ...
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After what speed air friction starts to heat up an object?

I understand that air friction cools off an object at low speeds. For example, if you blow on a spoon of hot soup, it cools off. Or if you swing a hot frying pan in the air, it cools off faster. But ...
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Definition of the entropy

In physics, the word entropy has important physical implications as the amount of "disorder" of a system. In mathematics, a more abstract definition is used. The (Shannon) entropy of a variable $X$ is ...
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Is speed an intensive property?

I remember being taught in elementary physics that while it makes sense to add volumes, masses, or heat, it makes no sense to add temperatures. As I wanted to use that to illustate some other issue, ...
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How can a wooden spoon be used to prevent water from over boiling?

This is an image I found via StumbleUpon Does this actually work? If so, why?
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Introduction to differential forms in thermodynamics

I've studied differential geometry just enough to be confident with differential forms. Now I want to see application of this formalism in thermodynamics. I'm looking for a small reference, to learn ...
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How does a canvas water bag cool water?

I was reading about this water bottle by Botl that behaves like a canvas water bags to keep water cool. I found out that this idea is an old idea and cars would drive with water bags in front as shown ...
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How to guess the content of a christmas present?

Let us assume that the present does not make any recognizable sounds when shaken (meow splat - the present now contains a dead kitten). Let us furthermore assume ...
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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 ...
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Hot water freezing faster than cold water

This question has puzzled me for a long time. There is already a question like this on Physics.SE. John's answer to the question seems quite satisfying. But when I googled the cause I found this and ...
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Melting and freezing point

Why is the melting and freezing point of a substance are always the same ? This was quoted in my textbook but they didn't give a reason for this being so. Thank you.
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What is the deal with heat capacity?

For some time now I've been confused about heat capacity. The way I understand it, if I put in an amount of heat energy into the system, $dQ$, its temperature will change by $CdT$. But now, ...
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Entropy increase and end of the universe

While taking thermodynamics our chemistry teacher told us that entropy is increasing in day by day (as per second law of thermodynamics), and when it reaches its maximum the end of the world will ...
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Maxwell's Demon Constant (Information-Energy equivalence)

New Scientist article: Summon a 'demon' to turn information into energy The speed of light c converts between space and time and also appears in e=mc^2. Maxwell's Demon can turn information supplied ...
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What would be non-ergodic physics processes?

As the title says, what would be non-ergodic processes that occur in statistical physics? Many textbooks do not really cover ergodicity really well so I ask this question. I can't suddenly remember ...
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202 views

How do ice spikes form?

I recently saw this picture posted on Twitter which shows a so-called ice spike rising from an ice cube tray. I have read the Wikipedia page, but it doesn't mean much to me. My instinct was that it ...
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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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How do greenhouse gases trap heat?

I am looking for a molecular-level understanding of the greenhouse effect. What is it about the carbon-dioxide molecule (and methane, and water, etc) that is different from other gasses ...
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Is there a simple way to derive a T-S diagram from a p-V diagram for arbitrary processes?

Often, for thermodynamic processes only a p-V diagram is shown. Even without hard figures, the shape of the curve can be helpful to evaluate the process. However, it is hard to figure out for real ...
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How do we perceive hotness or coldness of an object?

Some objects, especially metallic ones, feel cold on touching and others like wood, etc. feel warm on touching. Both are exposed to same environment and are in their stable state, so some kind of ...
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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, ...
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Is energy extensivity necessary in thermodynamics?

Given a partition of a system into two smaller systems, the energy $U$ is devided into $U_1$ and $U_2$, with $$U=\mathcal{P}(U_1,U_2):=U_1+U_2,$$ so that $U_2$ is given by $U-U_1$. Here the ...
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Recommendations for Statistical Mechanics book

I learned thermodynamics and the basics of statistical mechanics but I'd like to sit through a good advanced book/books. Mainly I just want it to be thorough and to include all the math. And of course ...
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Evaporating water in -30ºC

I don't really know anything about physics even though I pretended studying it for years. How is this explained?: ...
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217 views

Any open areas to work in non equilibrium thermodynamics for a Phd student? [closed]

I see that many papers written on fundamentals of thermodynamics(theory) nowadays are by some old professors somewhere(there may be exceptions). Most active young faculty don't seem to be seriously ...
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How does one calculate where the “surface” of a gas-giant would be?

Okay, so Jupiter, Saturn, et. al are gas giants. I understand that they have large gassy atmospheres, which, due to the pressure would eventually become more and more dense as one approaches the ...
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Does fire create air resistance?

Does fire create air resistance/drag? So, for example, would it be harder to swing a flaming sword than a normal one?
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Energy equation for an open system

I teach undergraduate thermodynamics and I was quite ashamed that I couldn't explain to a student, the following. I thought I'd bring it to physics.SE in hope of providing my student a good ...
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Why does ice melts, waits for 100 degrees and THEN vaporises? Why is not the process of expansion of things continuous?

What I am asking is this: Why can't a body be solid, then solid-ish, then solid-like, then liquid-like, then liquid-ish, then liquid, then vapor-like and then vapor? Why is there a rigid temperature ...
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Why does Platinum evaporate if left long enough?

I have been reading into research relating to the redefining the 1 kg weight as the current Platinum-Iridium is becoming smaller. In this article, here, it mentions that the original metal weight ...
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How does the boiling time depend on the number of eggs

My nephew showed me an exercise from his school-textbook about boiling eggs. Here is the exercise (translated from german): To make one hard-boiled egg in a pot of water one has to put it for 8 ...
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359 views

What do we mean when we talk about Gibbs Free Energy?

Before I start, I'm aware that this question may be better suited on the Chemistry or Biology site, but it's my belief that physicists are more likely to have a clear understanding on what certain ...
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692 views

What meaning does the slope of the efficiency path on a Mollier diagram have in terms of temperature?

Let's say I have a steam turbine that I have modified to increase its isentropic efficiency. As a specific case, consider the modification outlined in the Mollier diagram below. The arrows represent ...
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Melting point, is it determined only experimentally?

I am interested in the underlying physics of the concept of a melting point, a temperature at which an object tends to gain enough energy to break the bonds that hold it together and be in a liquid ...
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Imaginary time in quantum and thermodynamics

The following question is about chapter 2 of Sakurai's Modern Quantum Mechanics. I wish I could link to the Google book, but it doesn't seem to have a satisfactory preview to be able to read the ...
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545 views

Mechanical Equivalent of Heat

Recently I have been looking up James Joule's experiment regarding the mechanical equivalent of heat. After viewing some drawings of the apparatus, I assumed that the lines holding the weights would ...
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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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Should I heat my room when I'm not here, energy-efficiently speaking?

I was wondering as it's getting cold : is it better for my electricity bill to shut down completely my (electric) heater during day, and to turn it on again when I come home (then it will have to heat ...
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Why isn't the Earth's core temperature the average of its surface temperatures?

Assuming that the earth is spherical, that its temperature is continuous, and that some other more or less realistic conditions hold, we might think that the Earth's core temperature should be about ...
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Why isn't water running faster hotter?

I was running the washing up water this morning, and started to think about why the cold tap isn't hot, and why the water doesn't get hotter the faster it is flowing (if anything, the cold tap gets ...
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Physical interpretation of changing variables $S(T,V)$ to $S(T,p)$

I'm confused in this situation. In an example of this book (Example 16.5. Thermal Physics, by Blundell) they ask to prove that $$C_P - C_V = VT\frac{\alpha^2}{\beta_T}\tag{1}$$ but using the fact ...
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Why did my liquid soda freeze once I pulled it out of the fridge?

Can someone explain in both layman's terms and also technically why when I pulled my glass filled with liquid soda from the freezer, the liquid soda quickly froze? Doesn't this violate the 2nd law of ...
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Chemical potential of particles with zero mass

Why massless particles have zero chemical potential?
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Can I take heat from the air and convert it to electricity?

Its a summer day and the air in my house has been heated up. I could switch on my air conditioning, but then I'd be using energy from the grid in order to reduce the amount of energy in my house. ...
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How does cold air move through a room

If you turn on a fan in a warm room, it feels as if cold air is being pushed from the fan out in the direction that it's facing, but what's actually happening on a molecular level? When an object is ...
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747 views

What is the meaning of following expresion $C=\frac{\delta Q}{dT}$ mathematicly

Our professor raised the following question during our lecture in Statistical Physics (even so it's related to Thermodynamics): Many text books (even wikipedia) writes wrong expressions (from ...
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Why does microwaved food get cold faster

My evidence is entirely anectodal and non-scientific, but I've noticed food gets cold faster when it's been heated in a microwave instead of a stove. Is this true? And if it is, why does it happen?
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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 ...