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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Why do dark objects emit more than lighter ones?

For the purposes of this question, "lighter" and "darker" refer to the absorptive qualities of the objects. Darker objects absorb more light, and therefore appear darker. I'm trying to understand the ...
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3answers
1k 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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Does entropy increase or decrease as our Universe is expanding?

Scientists say that entropy of our universe is increasing as it is expanding and our universe is cooling down gradually from the time of its birth. If something is getting cooler and cooler, then how ...
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2answers
458 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, ...
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2answers
211 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, ...
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3answers
669 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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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 ...
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3answers
454 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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2answers
582 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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1answer
319 views

Simpler derivation of Sackur-Tetrode equation

Is there a reason the following derivation for the Sackur-Tetrode equation is not common? I am teaching a lower undergraduate level class and would like to derive it with simpler terms of only using ...
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4answers
354 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, ...
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426 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. ...
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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 ...
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1answer
534 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 ...
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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: ...
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1answer
315 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
197 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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3answers
349 views

Is there really such a thing as an irreversible process?

If an isolated system goes from a state A to B, will it always eventually fluctuate back to state A? If not, give an simple example. Is it right to say that entropy only says that the probability ...
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2answers
478 views

Does heat radiation come from the nucleus or the electrons?

Is more of the thermal radiation due to acceleration of electrons or acceleration of the nuclei? Do electrons and nuclei carry the same fractions of thermal energy in a hot body?
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432 views

Ideal gas temperature and pressure gradients?

Consider an ideal gas in a $d\times d\times L$ box with the $L$ dimension in the $x$-direction. Suppose that the opposite $d\times d$ sides of the box are held at temperatures $T_1$ and $T_2$ with ...
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1answer
980 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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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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1answer
2k views

Is there some way to narrow down the Leidenfrost point for water?

Cooks sometimes use the Leidenfrost effect to estimate the temperature of a frying pan by flicking a few drops of water onto the heated pan. I had no idea, before looking into this, that this could be ...
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Why are materials that are better at conducting electricity also proportionately better at conducting heat?

It seems like among the electrical conductors there's a relationship between the ability to conduct heat as well as electricity. Eg: Copper is better than aluminum at conducting both electricity and ...
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3answers
528 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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5answers
65k views

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 ...
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1answer
6k views

Why is black the best emitter?

Why are emitters colored black better emitters than other colors? Why is white a worse emitter?
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15k views

If I take a bottle of air into space, and open it, where does it go?

It seems to me that space doesn't have any/much air, and if my bottle is full of air, when I open it, where does the air go?
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334 views

evidence on the equation of state for dark energy?

If dark energy contributes mass-energy density $\rho$ and pressure $p$ to the stress-energy tensor, then you can define $w=p/\rho$, where $w=-1$ gives a cosmological constant, $w<-1$ gives a big ...
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8answers
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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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1answer
294 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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763 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
703 views

Spontaneous conversion of heat into work at negative temperatures

Consider a heavy macroscopic object moving in a gas. Friction causes its kinetic energy to be converted into heat. Thermodynamically, there is (effectively) no entropy associated with the kinetic ...
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1answer
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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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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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473 views

How much energy from extreme coldness?

Let's say I have: 1: one mole of extremely cold ideal gas 2: unlimited amount of ideal gas at temperature 300 K 3: one ideal heat engine Can I generate for example 1 MWh of mechanical energy using ...
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3answers
195 views

Are there materials that get softer with temperature decrease?

Could be there material that begins melting/softening when it's temperature is lowered? I would say no, but I've seen enough physics to know that not always life is so easy. Moreover I think I've ...
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3answers
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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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What are the six degrees of freedom of the atoms in a solid?

A monoatomic ideal gas has heat capacity $C_v=1.5$ which comes from the three translational degrees of freedom. For solids at high temperature, $C_v=3$, implying six degrees of freedom. What are ...
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2answers
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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!
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1answer
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Can quantum vacuum carry entropy?

So, we know that the state of quantum vacuum does carry energy, as it was measured in the Casimir effect. This energy comes from particles almost instantaneous creation and annihilation. Even if they ...
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2answers
2k views

If black and white object are in isolated space will the black absorb heat from the white?

This question has come to me from my friend in fact: he noted that the heating in the pub is painted black. I replied that it's better for heat emission. I don't know where did I know that from. And ...
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3answers
2k views

Why do moving particles emit thermal radiation?

While answering another question about heat in an atom, the discussion in the comments led to the question of how heat is related to thermal radiation picked up by infrared cameras. The answer is that ...
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3answers
20k views

How does an earthen pot keep water cool?

I understand that evaporative cooling takes place thanks to small pores contained in the pot and that allow some water to go through and evaporate. However I couldn't understand clearly whether water ...
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2answers
279 views

relativistic spaceship, CMB radiation and thermodynamics

Scenario: a spaceship is travelling at a high fraction of $c$. The interstellar gas and CMB radiation has blueshifted significantly and we are facing a possible melting of the front radiation shield! ...
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3answers
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Given constant T, why does P affect internal energy?

It has always bugged me that tables for water (and other) properties have the capability to look up internal energy as a function of both temperature and pressure. If we limit the discussion to ...
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1answer
495 views

Why is it difficult to mix helium and nitrogen gases?

I recently learned an interesting fact: That it's difficult to mix helium and nitrogen gases in a compressed gas cylinder. Gas suppliers that need to mix the two gases have to rotate the cylinders for ...
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2answers
892 views

Is a black body sphere inside a black body shell hotter than the shell?

I am missing something very basic here. Let us assume the shell is at a fixed temperature T by a power generator. The sphere inside will radiate the same power it absorbs. The power radiated by the ...
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3answers
900 views

Is thermodynamic reversibility a function of path?

Question: given a path taken by a system through state space, is it possible to make a statement such as 'that path corresponds to an irreversible process' or 'that path corresponds to a reversible ...