Term Paper: Temperature and Heat

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Temperature and Heat

Heat affects the temperature of the human body, water, land, atmosphere, and other structures of the earth. This is because the universe is made up of matter and energy. Matter is made up of atoms and group of atoms or molecules. It is energy that causes the atoms and molecules to move. This movement of atoms and molecules creates the form of energy. Based on scientific studies, temperature and heat are correlated to each other. Whenever heat is mentioned, temperature will follow, and vice versa. However, there is a slight difference between heat and temperature.

As defined by the Oxford Dictionary of Physics from Wikipedia, "heat, symbolized by Q, is energy transferred from one body or system to another due to a difference in temperature" (ISBN 0-19-280628-9). Hence, when energy is increased, the temperature will also rise. It is very important to understand that an increase in heat will not always result to an increase in temperature. This will be further discussed under potential energy in the next paragraphs.

Temperature, on the other hand, is not energy, but a number that relates to one type of energy possessed by the molecules of a substance. From here, we can conclude that temperature depends on heat, whereas, heat can stand by its own. However, it should not be misconstrued that temperature depends on the system size, the amount or type of material in the system.

There are different ways to measure temperature. It was early in 18th century when Gabriel Fahrenheit tailored the use of thermometer. Until now it is still in use together with the temperature scales which was developed by Ole Christensen Romer. Today, the basic unit of temperature (T) in the International System of Units (SI) is the Kelvin (K). Most of the households and hospitals use the Celsius scale - because it is more convenient to use. The freezing point is represented by 0°C while 100 "C corresponds to the boiling point of water at sea level. The use of the scales varies into places, like in the United States, the Fahrenheit is widely used. Temperature plays a vital role in science, not only in physics but in chemistry and biology as well. Materials have physical properties that include density, solubility, vapor pressure, electrical conductivity, and even the phases of solid, liquid, gas or plasma - all these depend on the temperature. Like the human body, where the normal temperature is at 36.8 "C, these physical properties maintain a particular temperature. Any instance that the temperature went beyond the normal rate can result in harmful reactions with corresponding serious consequences.

The quantity of heat that is required in order to raise the temperature of a certain mass of a given substance can be measured through specific heat. This is measured in units of Joules (J/kg) or in Centigrade ("C). As stated earlier, heat can stand alone - hence, specific heat is constant for a particular substance and every substance has a different specific heat.

There are three core heat-related subjects that play important roles to better understand the study of thermal physics - thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and kinetic theory. The first law of thermodynamics states that in a closed system, the energy is conserved.

In order to change the energy of the system, the energy must be transferred to or from the system. But how is energy transferred? There are two mechanisms by which energy is transferred -- through heat and work. Note that in thermodynamics, heat is not viewed as being stored within a body, but, exists only as energy in transit during transfer. The transfer of heat is spontaneous from a hotter object to a colder object. When the energy is transferred, the recipient substance will experience a raise in temperature, thereby, the heat can be used to speed up the molecules of the substance. The second law of thermodynamics states that the same average of energy per particle can be reached when two given systems interacts with each other, thereby, will achieve the same temperature.

Under the kinetic theory, temperature is defined as a measure of the average kinetic energy of the molecules that make up that material. At low temperature, gas molecules travel at slower speeds on the average, as compared to their travel at a high temperature. This also means that at a low temperature the molecules have a less kinetic energy on the average, than they do at a high temperature because of their lower speed. When the molecules have zero kinetic energy, it is impossible for anything to be colder. When heat comes into a substance, energy also comes into the substance. The energy then can be used to increase the kinetic energy of the molecules, which would cause an increase in temperature.

The heat could also be used to increase the energy at rest, or the potential energy of the molecules. There will be a change in state but it is not accompanied by an increase in temperature. In comparing the molecular contents of solid, liquid, and gas, the kinetic energy in each phase differs. Liquid has enough energy to move around one another. Unless there is a transfer of energy from one body to another, a certain amount of heat cannot be measured. Therefore, heat is the sum of all potential and kinetic energies that are possessed by the molecules of a substance.

Heat is also transferred from a high-temperature region to a low-temperature region through the mechanisms of conduction, convection, and radiation. The transfer of heat between the two systems stops when they both reach the same temperature or when they are at thermal equilibrium. Please note that in this transfer of heat between two objects of different temperature, heat will flow from the hotter of the two objects to the colder until they both have the same temperature. Conduction is the most significant way of heat transfer in a solid. The process occurs as a hot, rapidly moving or vibrating atoms and molecules that interact with neighboring atoms and molecules. They transfer some of their energy in the form of heat to these neighboring atoms. With regard to heat and gases, heat is transferred through convection. It shows the combined effect of convection and fluid flow. In the absence of any form of medium, heat can be transferred through radiation.

Consider the global warming that we experience today. Most probably, one contributing factor may be the large part of the original heat that is trapped within the interior of the earth. Most of the materials of the earth's crust are very poor conductors of heat, which act as a barrier to the escape of heat from the interior. In studying the earth's heat, the temperature increase with depth differs from one place to another. There are places where pockets of molten rock are found very close to the surface of regions of volcanic activity. However, it is also noticed that in some regions that are free of any volcanic activity, there is an uneven change of temperature with the increase in depth. These variations are due to the reason that different kinds of rocks conduct heat differently. There are some layers of rock in the crust that are warmer than others because they conduct large amounts of heat upward from lower levels. There are radioactive elements such as radium, uranium, thorium, and potassium that are good producers of heat and these are present in the rocks that are spread throughout the entire body of the earth. They were believed to be responsible for the heat that caused the earth to be melted in its early stages of development. The radioactive elements near the surface are now actively producing heat faster than it is being lost in space, thereby causing the earth to grow warmer and warmer.

The energy from the sun reaches the earth in the form of solar radiations. In studying the concept of heat related to sunlight, it is also helpful to understand insolation, which is the surface upon which the total energy received by the earth as the radiations fall. These are materials that are specifically designed to reduce the flow of heat by means of limiting the conduction, convection, or the combination of both. The energy from the sun travels through a vacuum of space before warming the earth. The only way that energy can leave earth is by being radiated back to space. The amount of insolation can be determined by the angle of which the sun's rays strike the earth; and the length of time the sun shines during the day. These are governed by the latitude of the particular location. It is also important to note that latitude is not the only factor in determining the amount of heat received at a particular place. The distribution of temperature over the earth is shown by means of isotherms - the lines that connect points of equal average temperature. The same amount of insolation heats the land faster and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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