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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14k 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 ...
10
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4answers
7k views

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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2answers
1k views

Entropy of the Sun

Is it possible to measure or calculate the total entropy of the Sun? Assuming it changes over time, what are its current first and second derivatives w.r.t. time? What is our prediction on its ...
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2answers
191 views

In a Monte Carlo NVT simulation How do I determine equilibration

I'm running an NVT (constant number of particles, volume and temperature) Monte Carlo simulation (Metropolis algorithm) of particles in two dimensions interacting via Lennard-Jonse potential ($U = ...
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3answers
1k views

Where does the kinetic energy go?

A uniform cylinder was placed on a frictionless bearing and set to rotate about its vertical axis. After a cylinder has reached a specific state of rotation it is heated without any mechanical support ...
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1answer
1k views

Postulate of a-priori probabilities

In Statistical Mechanics, we often postulate that for an isolated system, the phase-space density of all accessible microstates (i.e all microstates consistent with the energy) is the same. This is ...
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3answers
5k views

How do blankets keep you warm?

I heard a famous physicist (was it Feynman?) argue that blankets do not keep you warm by trapping heat but by trapping air next to the body. Is this true?
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2answers
875 views

Why does $U = T S - P V + \sum_i \mu_i N_i$?

From the first law of thermodynamics: $$ dU = TdS - PdV + \sum_i\mu_i dN_i.$$ Quoting Wikipedia: As conjugate variables to the composition $N_{i}$ the chemical potentials are intensive ...
6
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2answers
822 views

Microwave oven + water: dielectric heating or ion drag?

When you place a water or food in a microwave oven, it heats. Which process commits more energy to that: dielectric heating, or ion drag i.e. resistive heating? AFAIK, in distilled water (which is a ...
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3answers
1k views

What does it take to derive the ideal gas law in themodynamics?

How can the ideal gas law be derived from the following assumptions/observations/postulates, and these only ? I'm able to measure pressure $P$ and volume $V$ for gases. I notices that if ...
4
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1answer
241 views

Independence of thermodynamic variables

A given thermodynamical system has a number of state variables, not all of which are independent. Suppose that we have a system which can be specified by $k+1$ extensive variables: $U,X_1,\cdots,X_k$. ...
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1answer
227 views

Explicit form of the entropy production in hydrodynamics

I'm trying to understand how hydrodynamics arise from a precise, mathematical formulation of thermodynamics, learning mostly from Landau's "Hydrodynamics". So Landau starts from formulating the ...
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2answers
4k views

Connection between entropy and energy

An isolated system $A$ has entropy $S_a>0$. Next, the isolation of $A$ is temporarily violated, and it has entropy reduced $$S_b ~=~ S_a - S,\space\space\space S\leq S_a.$$ Is it true to say: the ...
3
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2answers
917 views

Why is the Carnot engine the most efficient?

It seems that the only condition used in proving that the Carnot engine is the most efficient is that it is reversible. More specifically, the Carnot engine can be run in reverse as a refrigerator. ...
2
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2answers
355 views

How to use the first law of thermodynamics for simple mechanical systems?

I'm confused about what exactly is $Q$ and $U$ and their signs. Consider a block initially having some kinetic energy which we stop and we want to find by how much amount its temperature increases. ...
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1answer
5k views

Carnot efficiency, coefficient of performance for a refrigerator

I was reading that a new type of refrigerator might reach a coefficient of performance (COP) of 10. This seems quite the achievement and the authors state that their approach might achieve a Carnot ...
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4answers
6k views

How is it possible that it can get hotter in the car than it is outside?

The Law of Thermodynamics says that two bodies will eventually have equal temperatures. How is it possible that when you leave your car in the sun, it gets hotter in the car than it is outside? Why ...
18
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1answer
1k views

Does the heat equation violate causality?

I've ran across the idea that, besides simply writing partial differential equations in covariant form, they need to be hyperbolic with all characteristic speeds less than the speed of light. A ...
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5answers
1k views

Why doesn't the entropy increase when two similar gases mix with each other?

Entropy increases when two substances mix with each other. For example, the entropy of mixing of two different gases are given by $$\Delta S= 2Nk\ln\frac{V_f}{V_i}\;.$$ But, the entropy doesn't ...
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2answers
3k views

Do black holes violate the first law of thermodynamics?

When a black hole absorbs matter is it destroying that mass, thereby destroying energy, therefore violating the first law of thermodynamics?
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9answers
2k views

Entropy increase vs Conservation of information (QM)

Unitarity of quantum mechanics prohibits information destruction. On the other hand, the second law of thermodynamics claims entropy to be increasing. If entropy is to be thought of as a measure of ...
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3answers
746 views

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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3answers
1k views

Would a perfectly clean and perfectly smooth champagne glass have no bubbles?

My understanding is that nucleation sites for bubbles in a champagne glass are either due to defects in the glass or due to fibers in the glass. (See this article for details on that statement.) Does ...
9
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4answers
781 views

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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2answers
629 views

Chemical potential in Thermodynamics

In many scenarios, on computing the partial derivative of the internal energy (U) with respect to mole number (N) is negative. This implies that adding more moles of the substance decreases the U of ...
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3answers
19k views

Maximum theoretical efficiency of internal combustion engine

This Wikipedia article states that: Most steel engines have a thermodynamic limit of 37%. Is it correct? If so then it is not clear where this number comes from. Is it derived somehow from ...
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2answers
239 views

Does the size of bubbles in water brought to a boil ever vary as a function of the amount of water?

Some discussion surrounding this answer on Worldbuilding got me curious. When water is brought towards a boil, bubbles are formed. Anyone who has ever cooked anything whatsoever knows about this. ...
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1answer
3k views

Adiabatic expansion in van der Waals gas [closed]

Given a Van der Waals gas with state equation: $$\left( P+\frac{N^2 a}{V^2}\right)\left( V-Nb \right)=NkT,$$ show that the equation of an adiabatic process is: $$\left( ...
6
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3answers
605 views

Can temperature be defined as propensity to transmit thermal energy?

I was recently surprised to learn that defining temperature isn't easy. For a long time, it was defined operationally: how much does a thermometer expand. Also surprising, temperature isn't a ...
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1answer
245 views

Fluids in thermodynamic equlibrium

I am reading about the Euler equations of fluid dynamics from Leveque's Numerical Methods for Conservation Laws (Amazon link). After introducing the mass, momentum and energy equations, some ...
5
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1answer
2k views

Greatest volumetric heat capacity

Is there any substance with bigger volumetric heat capacity than water? According to this table water has the biggest known VHC. But I can't believe that in the 21. century we have no special material ...
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3answers
6k views

Differentiating the ideal gas law

In reading Fermi's Thermodynamics, to show that $C_p = C_v + R$, the author differentiates the ideal gas law for a mole of gas ($PV = RT$) to obtain: $PdV + VdP = RdT$. Now, the only way I am able to ...
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3answers
2k views

How much heat from a fire actually warms your home?

A fire in a hearth disperses heat to, I guess, three places: the bricks of the chimney out the hearth (where the person tending the fire is standing) out the chimney, above the house How would you ...
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4answers
2k views

Mathematical proof of the Second Law of Thermodynamics [duplicate]

Is there some book or paper that formalizes statistical mechanics, like some people have done with relativity, and proves the second law of thermodynamics from more foundational axioms?
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2answers
508 views

Entropy of a naked singularity

According to the wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naked_singularity: "Some research has suggested that if loop quantum gravity is correct, then naked singularities could exist in nature, ...
4
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2answers
215 views

Is there a general form for heat capacity?

Can you derive a general form (not keeping either volume or pressure constant) for heat capacity from the first law of thermodynamics? Do you have to make any assumptions to do so? It sounds trival, ...
4
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3answers
689 views

Is there a mechanism for time symmetry breaking?

Excluding Thermodynamic's arrow of time, all mathematical descriptions of time are symmetric. We know the arrow of time is real and we know the equations describing physics are real so is there any ...
4
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1answer
2k views

What is non-thermal plasma?

I read about non-thermal plasma, but I still have some questions: The ions and neutral particles are not in thermal equilibrium with the electron, does that mean that the overall temperature is low ...
4
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1answer
81 views

thermodynamics of a dual-face surface in space

This question is a continuation from this one. A material disk have two sides, one that is reflective and another absorptive of electromagnetic radiation in the range where the background cosmic ...
4
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3answers
466 views

How many particles is needed to observe a phase transition?

This is a question that was rised when we were discussing "what is melting actually". How many particles you need to form a liquid or solid. I have some remarks to point out what I want to know. Q: ...
4
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2answers
592 views

What are the easiest to get/make LN2 superconductors?

I am starting to build multistage Peltier cooler at the moment, and it should be able to reach -100C at least (but if I fail I can always get boring LN2). Doing some experiments with superconductors ...
3
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4answers
382 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, ...
3
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1answer
496 views

How do you explain the fact that when air expands freely into an evacuated chamber from a constant pressure atmosphere, its temperature increases?

I came across this paper: Baker, B. (1999). An easy to perform but often counterintuitive demonstration of gas expansion. American Journal of Physics, 67(8), 712-713. ...
3
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4answers
16k 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 ...
3
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1answer
546 views

Why there is no negative temperature [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Prove that negative absolute temperatures are actually hotter than positive absolute temperatures Proof of existence of lowest temperature $0 K$ On the Kelvin ...
3
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1answer
4k views

Entropy of two expanding and mixing ideal gases

I am currently stuck with the following problem: ...
3
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4answers
1k 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: ...
2
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1answer
49 views

Reversible process, equivalence of two definitions?

There are two common definitions of a reversible process: A reversible processes is quasistatic with no dissipation. And A process where an infinitesimal change in conditions would reverse ...
2
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1answer
349 views

Increasing the efficiency of solar cell systems

As far as I know, there are currently two main approaches to utilising solar radiation for maximum energy conversion to electricity. These are either direct conversion to electricity, using ...
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4answers
213 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 ...