Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Unizor - Physics4Teens - Energy - Heat Transfer - Radiation

Notes to a video lecture on http://www.unizor.com

Heat Transfer - Radiation

Heat radiation IS NOT the same as radioactivity. Though, under certain circumstances (like an explosion of an atomic bomb) the heat radiation and radioactivity are both present. When we discuss the heat radiation we talk about a process that occurs in any object with a temperature greater than absolute zero, while radioactivity occurs in extreme cases of very high energy output.

Heat transfer through radiation is totally different from conduction and convection. The most important property of heat transfer by radiation is that heat transfer occurs without any visible material conduit that carries the heat, like molecular movement in two other cases.

Let's start from an example.
The brightest example is our Sun, as a source of heat energy. Between Sun and Earth there is no visible material conduit, yet the heat comes to Earth and is a source of life on our planet.

The fundamental concept that lies in the foundation of a process of heat radiation is a concept of a field.
The field is a region of space, where certain forces act on certain objects without visible material medium.
As an example of the field, consider gravity. The Sun keeps planets on their orbits, the Earth keeps the Moon circling around, people are walking on the ground without flying away to stars etc. We did not know much about WHY the gravitational field exist, yet we did study its behavior, the forces involved and the laws of motion in this field.

There are other fields.
Magnetic field around our planet, acting on a compass, forces the arrow to point North.
Electric field exists around electrically charged objects, so other electrically charged objects are attracted to or repulsed from it.

In Physics we successfully study these fields, but complete understanding of WHY they have the properties that we observed is not completely clear. So, we will concentrate on properties, answering the question HOW?, not on a more fundamental question WHY?.

Let's start with a particular field called electro-magnetic. Very simplified description of this field is as follows.

Any electron creates an electric field around itself. Moving electrons, which we call electric current or electric field that changes in time, also create a magnetic field around them. So, changing in time electric field creates magnetic field that changes in space. It's an experimental fact, and we have the whole theory about properties of these fields.

Consider an experiment, when you move a metal rod or any other electrical conductor in a magnetic field or change a magnetic field around any electrical conductor, thus creating a magnetic field that changes in time. You will observe that there is an electric current in the conductor, thus creating an electric field that changes in space. It's an experimental fact, and we also have the whole theory about properties of this process.

So, electric field creates magnetic field, which, in turn, creates electric field etc. This is a loop of energy conversion that propagates extremely fast, with a speed of light, about 3·108m/sec.

The combination of electric and magnetic forces form electro-magnetic field that propagates much faster than its physical medium - electrons. So, the propagation of the electro-magnetic field seems to be a self-sufficient process, occurring without the medium. This is a very brief and unsatisfactory explanation of the nature of the electro-magnetic field. We will not go much further in this explanation, but rather concentrate on the properties of the electro-magnetic field.

Assuming that we accept the existence of the electro-magnetic field and, however uncomfortably we feel about it, but accept that there is no need for a medium to propagate this field, we can talk about frequency of electro-magnetic transformations, that can be considered similar to oscillation of molecules in a solid. Inasmuch as the oscillations of molecules in a metal are propagated, thus transferring heat energy from hot area to cold one, oscillations of the electric and magnetic components of the electro-magnetic field transfers energy.
This energy transfer by electro-magnetic field is called radiation.

As in a case of oscillating molecules in a solid, carrying more heat energy when oscillation is more intense (higher frequency), the electro-magnetic field oscillation carries energy with higher frequencies being more "energetic" than lower.

Interestingly, receptors in our skin feel the temperature of a solid object, that is, we feel the intensity of oscillation of its molecules. Similarly, we feel the warm rays of Sun on our skin, that is, we feel the intensity of electro-magnetic oscillation of the electro-magnetic field.
What's more remarkable, we see the light. Apparently, electro-magnetic oscillations in certain frequency range act upon censors in our eyes, thus we see the light. Moreover, in this visible range of frequencies different frequencies of electro-magnetic oscillation produce effect of different colors in our eyes.

As you see, the light and heat of radiation have the same source - the oscillation of electro-magnetic field, the only difference is the frequency. In other words, the light and heat radiation are manifestations of the same process of transferring energy by the oscillations of the components of the electro-magnetic field.

An object does not have to have a temperature of the Sun to emit heat radiation. All objects that have temperature higher than absolute zero emit thermal radiation of some frequencies. Usually, the whole spectrum of frequencies of electro-magnetic oscillations is emitted by objects. Lower frequencies (usually called infrared) are felt by skin receptors, higher frequencies are visible by an eye. Frequencies higher than those visible by a human eye are called ultraviolet. Even higher frequencies are called X-rays, which can be produced by special equipment and, depending on intensity and time of exposure, can represent a health hazard. Even higher intensity and high frequencies are called gamma rays, and they are produced in extreme cases like nuclear explosion or nuclear reactor meltdown, and they are extremely dangerous and are usually meant, when the term radioactivity is used. All frequencies can be observed using some scientific instruments.

Any object, placed in the outer space will emit its heat energy through radiation until its temperature will reach absolute zero. Our Sun emits huge amounts of energy in all spectrum of frequencies in all directions and, eventually, run out of heat energy and go dark.

The intensity of radiation, that is amount of heat radiated per unit of time per unit of area of an object depends, as in other cases of heat transfer, on the temperature of an object and temperature of surrounding environment.
In the complete vacuum with no other source of energy the radiation intensity of an object is proportional to the fourth degree of its absolute temperature in °K:
q = σ·T4 where
σ = 5.67·10−8 W/(m2·°K4)
is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant.
This is the Law of Stefan-Boltzmann. Its derivation is complex and is outside of the scope of this course.

Radiation is not only emitted by objects with temperatures above absolute zero, but also can be absorbed by them and even reflected. While ability to absorb the heat is common for other heat transfer types (conduction and convection), reflection is a specific property of heat radiation. More precisely, it's a specific property of oscillations of the electro-magnetic field.
Obvious application of this property is the usage of mirrors that reflect the oscillations of the electro-magnetic field in a very broad spectrum of frequencies, including the visible light.
An example of absorbed radiation is a slice of bread toasted in the electric toaster. It absorbs the thermal radiation emitted by electric coils, that changes the bread's structure.

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