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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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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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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839 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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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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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 ...
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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 two ...
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Why does a gas get hot when suddenly compressed? What is happening at the molecular level?

My guess is that the molecules of gas all have the same speed as before, but now there are much more collisions per unit area onto the thermometer, thus making the thermometer read a higher ...
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1answer
246 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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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 ...
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1answer
236 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
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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. ...
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383 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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Difference between KE “relativistic” mass and heat mass

I have been told in several answers that the term "relativistic mass" is no longer considered adequate wrt. the mass/energy increase in KE. Yet, I read that 1 Kg of gold's mass ingreases by 10^-14 Kg ...
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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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883 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 (particularly,...
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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 ...
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8answers
23k views

Why does hot oil explode when pouring water on it?

What is the reason that hot oil makes sound and explodes when water is poured on it?
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797 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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981 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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641 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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4answers
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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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2answers
236 views

Why aren't we surrounded by Black holes?

The Bekenstein bound is a limit to the amount of entropy a thermodynamical system can have. The bound is given by the following expression: \begin{equation} S \leq \frac{2 \pi k R E}{\hbar c} \end{...
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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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608 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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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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4answers
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Is thermal/heat energy the same thing as internal energy?

I learned that internal energy of an object is the sum of the kinetic energy and potential energy of the molecules of the object. Is this energy the same thing as the heat energy the object contains?
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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
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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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1answer
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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 ...
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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, ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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2answers
597 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 ...
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3answers
484 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: ...
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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
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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, ...
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3answers
710 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 ...
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4answers
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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: ...
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1answer
511 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. http://scitation.aip.org/...
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1answer
552 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 temperature ...
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4answers
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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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1answer
4k views

Entropy of two expanding and mixing ideal gases

I am currently stuck with the following problem: ...
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1answer
79 views

Fluid filled open container in space/vacuum

I have water in a bottle, as I open it in space(or vacuum for that case ). From what I have read in books the water will instantly vapourize,as the vapour pressure of the water inside, far exceeds the ...
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4answers
219 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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2answers
386 views

System in mechanical but not thermal equilibrium

Let's say there are two systems which can interact by a moving wall but cannot exchange heat. Then the system will be in mechanical, but not necessarily in thermal equilibrium. The maximality of ...
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1answer
360 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 ...