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53

Moonlight has a spectral peak around 650nm (the sun peaks at around 550nm). Ordinary solar cells will work just fine to convert it into electricity. The power of moonlight is about 500,000 times less than that of sunlight, which for a solar constant of 1000W/m^2 leaves us with about 2mW/m^2. After accounting for optical losses and a typical solar cell ...


51

By popular demand (considering two to be popular — thanks @Rod Vance and @Love Learning), I'll expand a bit on my comment to @Kieran Hunt's answer: Thermal equilibrium As I said in the comment, the notion of sound in space plays a very significant role in cosmology: When the Universe was very young, dark matter, normal ("baryonic") matter, and light ...


41

I did some experimenting (playing ? :-)). The effect is "ill conditioned" and, while the result when the wicks are in close proximity is always a joined flame, the results when the separation is increased slightly is very 'time variable'. Using even quite thin candles (thicker than tapers - about 10mm od) flame proximity could not be got close enough to ...


41

To sustain a fire, you need three factors: fuel, oxygen, and heat. Take away one of the three and the fire goes out. Water removes heat. Most of this "removing heat" is the evaporation - roughly 540 calories / gram, so 7x more heat than is needed to get water from 20°C to boiling (with a tip of the hat to @Jasper for pointing out erroneous value in earlier ...


40

While I agree in principle with David Lynch's answer, I think it's good to take a closer look at the phase diagram (adapted from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/46/Carbon_basic_phase_diagram.png): I added the arrows to show possible paths you might follow. Red path: diamond would become graphite before melting; the molten carbon becomes ...


40

The factors that most matter when you are near lava: The fractional solid angle of lava as subtended at the observer ("how much lava do you see") The temperature of the lava The reflectivity of the clothing you are wearing Any effect of air flow (wind blowing towards lava or away from it) Toxic fumes... In essence, if we treat lava as a black body ...


39

The direction of the gravitational force would not change under time reversal. Your object would feel a force downward, just as it does usually. It might be easier to imagine you had a movie of an object under the influence of gravity. Drop the ball from rest some distance above the floor. You'll see it move downward and speed up. You'd interpret this as a ...


37

No, it is not possible to hide a person's heat signature indefinitely. Even with the best suit imaginable, you will eventually either begin leaking the heat, overheating the person, or both. One problem is that there are no perfect thermal insulators. This means that you must either use the best available and keep emissions below some threshold of ...


36

Typically, satellites use radiative cooling to maintain thermal equilibrium at a desired temperature. How they do this depends greatly on the specifics of the satellite's orbit around Earth. For instance, sun-synchronous satellites typically always have one side in sunlight and one side in darkness. These are particularly easy to keep cool because you can ...


36

From the ideal gas law, we know: $$ v_\textrm{sound} = \sqrt{\frac{\gamma k_\textrm{B} T}{m}} $$ Assuming that interstellar space is heated uniformly by the CMB, it will have a temperature of $2.73\textrm{K}$. We know that most of this medium comprises protons and neutral hydrogen atoms at a density of about 1 atom/cc. This means that $\gamma = 5/3$, and ...


33

Because the liquid would boil away. Boiling is what happens when the partial pressure of a liquid exceeds the ambient pressure. Liquids have higher partial pressure as they get hotter, so we usually associate boiling with high temperature. For example, water needs to be heated to 100°C to boil at 1 atmosphere ambient pressure. However, pressure is ...


33

Landauer's principle (original paper pdf | doi) expresses a non-zero lower bound on the amount of heat that must be generated by computers. However, this entropy-necessitated heat is dwarfed by the heat generated through ordinary electrical resistance of the circuitry (the same reason light bulbs give off heat).


30

The actual efficiency of the engine is most likely not driven by the "outlet temperature" but by the viscosity of the lubricants. On a cold day an engine has to work a lot harder to move the oil, and this will definitely affect (negatively) the efficiency - at least until the engine heats up. Next, the temperature at the hot part of the cycle will be lower ...


29

The metal mug will equilibrate with the water much faster than the foam mug will— but after that the heat has no place to go except to be lost as steam via natural convection or transferred away through radiation,$^\dagger$ heat transfer mechanisms which do not depend on the material of the mug. It turns out that radiation plays a very small role as shown ...


28

Typically: $\rm d$ denotes the total derivative (sometimes called the exact differential):$$\frac{{\rm d}}{{\rm d}t}f(x,t)=\frac{\partial f}{\partial t}+\frac{\partial f}{\partial x}\frac{{\rm d}x}{{\rm d}t}$$This is also sometimes denoted via $$\frac{Df}{Dt},\,D_tf$$ $\partial$ represents the partial derivative (derivative of $f(x,y)$ with respect to $x$ ...


27

I got close enough to slowly flowing lava to stick a rock hammer in it, but you had to pull back quickly -- it felt like a bonfire. It was tolerable 8 feet away. The lava was about 6 inches thick, oozed less than an inch per second and showed orange-red on an advancing toe that was only about six inches in diameter. The rest of the flow was silvery black ...


26

I presume that the question is actually "which of these experiences greater acceleration due the difference between the force of gravity and atmospheric forces on the cannon ball" because "which one will reach the ground first" has all kinds of flippant answers waiting. The hotter cannonball has a few properties that may be relevant: it will be larger: ...


25

Just want to bring up that most answers seem to be taking "space" to be a nice uniform medium. However, even within our own galaxy, conditions vary wildly. Here are the most common environments in the Milky Way: Molecular Clouds, $\rho\sim 10^4\,{\rm atom}/{\rm cm}^3$, $T\sim 10\,{\rm K}$ Cold Neutral Medium, $\rho\sim 20\,{\rm atom}/{\rm cm}^3$, $T\sim ...


25

The answer is a combination of physics and physiology. The warm water in the shower very quickly heats up the air in the shower, and warms up your skin. It also drives up the humidity of the air in the shower. You acclimate very quickly to the temperature/humidity conditions in the shower as being "normal". With the door left open a crack, you allow ...


24

I don't understand the difference between the first and the second question, but the answer is "No, you don't need air for the clothes to dry". In fact, it will dry faster if in vacuum, because the water will start to boil in zero pressure, even if the temperature is not 100º C. In fact, at zero pressure, water cannot exist in liquid, but will evaporate if ...


21

The partition function is strongly related to a very useful tool in probability theory called the moment generating function(al) of the probability distribution. For any probability distribution $p$ of some random variable $X$, the generating function $\mathcal{M}(z)$ is defined as being: \begin{equation} \mathcal{M}(z) \equiv \langle e^{zX}\rangle ...


21

First, strictly speaking a neutron star is not a nucleus since it is bound together by gravity rather than the strong force. Measuring a surface temperature for any star is deceptively simple. All that is needed is a spectrum, which gives the luminous flux (or similar quantity) as a function of photon wavelength. There will be a broad thermal peak somewhere ...


21

At least one point in your favour is that the light we receive from the Moon has barely anything to do with its temperature. Instead it is mostly a secondary light source "reflecting" light from the Sun towards us. The second point in your favour (I think) is that the thermodynamic argument seems pretty weak. We are not trying to make Earth as hot as the ...


20

@AMCDawes gives a well reasoned explaination of how the physics would play out. However in the scenario depicted by Dawes, he leaves out the part whereby we reintroduce the poor hapless subject to air (I assume 20% oxygen @ STP). If we duty cycle this quickly enough the hair would definitely reignite [citation needed]*. The issue is that flammable ...


19

The reason is the same as why a metal pipe feels colder than wooden plank at the same temperature: thermal conduction. The heat from your tongue (including the moisture) is absorbed faster than your body can replenish it. This has the effect of freezing your saliva in the tongue's pores to the metal surface (which itself isn't too smooth at small scales). ...


19

In practice, no. In theory, also no. The Universe is filled with photons with an energy distribution corresponding to 2.73 K. Every cm$^3$ of space holds around 400-500 of them. That means that if you place your "stable body" in an ever-so-isolated box, the box itself will never come below 2.73 K, and neither will the body inside. It will asymptotically go ...


18

Mammalian sense of smell is in general exquisitely keen: even though we think of ourselves as an animal having a dull smell sense comapared to that of, say, a dog, a pig or a rat, receptors for certain scents are still triggered by molecules counted in the tens. So the outgassing of volatile wood oils from, say, a table, can still be miniscule and well ...


18

For the sake of answering your question as asked, we'll assume you can in fact pump out all the air in the room instantaneously. By "all the air" we'll assume we can drop the pressure to something quite low but not ultra-high-vacuum. Two scenarios suggest that this would work: The first is the fact that humans have survived at near-vacuum conditions for up ...


18

MSalters already said "yes". I would like to expand on that by computing the change. Let's take a 10 kg cannon ball, made of lead. Heat capacity of 0.16 J/g/K means that in dropping from 1000 K to 100 K it has lost $10000\cdot 900 \cdot 0.16 \approx 1.4 MJ$. This corresponds (by $E=mc^2$) to a mass of $1.6 \cdot 10^{-11} kg$ or one part in $6\cdot 10^{11}$. ...



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