When I start into heat capacity I contrast the temperature of a substance with the feeling of hot and cold. A thermometer will tell you the temperature of a substance, but that does not tell you how much heat is present. If you touch something, you can tell if it is hotter or colder than your hand, but what about two substances at the same temperature?
Suppose outside it is -10 C (14 F) and there you find a piece of steel and a piece of Styrofoam. Which is colder? If you touch the steel it feels colder than the Styrofoam, but they are both at the same temperature. If you placed the steel on the Styrofoam, no heat will flow between them (Third Law of thermodynamics). Since your hand is much hotter than the objects, heat must flow from your hand into them.
Thermo does take time to become familiar and I try many ways to get these ideas over. I think that it helps some when I tell them that when I was a student taking thermo, I failed my first midterm.
One question I pose every year to my physical chemistry class of life science students in the first lecture is “Where is chemical energy stored?” Almost all of them say in chemical bonds. Ask how the energy is released, and they say “When bonds are broken.”
After rolling 2, 3, 4, 10 and Avogadro’s dice, as seen in the entries below, it becomes clear that the most random states (most number of ways of rolling a number) always dominate while those with fewer arrangements occur less frequently: 1 Entropy: Randomness by rolling two dice 2 Entropy: Randomness by rolling three dice 3 Entropy: Randomness by rolling four dice 4 Entropy: Randomness by rolling ten dice 5 Entropy: Randomness by rolling Avogadro’s dice In this final entry of randomness and entropy, the concept of an ensemble is discussed. We are using a die to represent a particle that has six states that come up randomly. Hence we have treated systems with 2, 3, 4, 10 and Avogadro’s constant (let’s use 1023) of particles (dice) and have shown that as the number increases, the total number of accessible states, is given by 6n. Clearly the number of states in Avogadro’s case is 61023 : an enormous number!! If you start to roll this many dice, every roll gives... Read More
With Avogadro’s number of dice, you can roll them as much as you want, and the chance that there is an outcome other than the one that corresponds to the position of the spike is so unlikely you can safely ignore them.