Lab #7: Thermal Energy
Heat is thermal energy being transferred from one place to another, because of temperature changes. This can take place by three processes. These three processes are known as conduction, convection, and radiation. When we place two objects with different temperatures in contact with each other, the heat from the hotter object will immediately and automatically flow to the colder object. This is known as conduction. Some objects make excellent conductors of heat while others make poor conductors of heat or excellent insulators. Silver, copper, and gold make excellent conductors of heat. Foams and plastics make good insulators of heat but make poor conductors. Last night for dinner, I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. I heated the soup faster than I cooked the sandwich so I poured the hot soup into a bowl and finished cooking the sandwich. Once I was done cooking, I gabbed the soup bowl and burned my hand. The heat from the soup made the bowl hot. This is an example of conduction.
The process of conduction between a solid surface and a moving liquid or gas is called convection. The motion of the fluid may be natural or forced. If a liquid or gas is heated, its mass per unit volume generally decreases. If the liquid or gas is in a gravitational field, the hotter, lighter fluid rises while the colder, heavier fluid sinks. For example, when water in a pan is heated from below on my stove, the liquid closest to the bottom expands and its density decreases. The hot water as a result rises to the top and some of the cooler fluid descends toward the bottom, thus setting up a circulatory motion. This is also why the heating of a room by a radiator depends less on radiation than on natural convection currents, the hot air rising upward along the wall and cooler air coming back to the radiator from the side of the bottom. Because of the tendencies of hot air to rise and of cool air to sink, radiators are...
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