EGEE 102
Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection

Measuring Thermal Energy

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Thermal energy is energy associated with random motion of molecules. It is indicated by temperature which is the measure of the relative warmth or coolness of an object.

A temperature scale is determined by choosing two reference temperatures and dividing the temperature difference between these two points into a certain number of degrees.

The two reference temperatures used for most common scales are the melting point of ice and the boiling point of water.

  • On the Celsius temperature scale, or centigrade scale, the melting point is taken as 0°C and the boiling point as 100°C, with the difference between them being equal to 100 degrees.
  • On the Fahrenheit temperature scale, the melting point is taken as 32°F and the boiling point as 212°F, with the difference between them being equal to 180 degrees.

It is important to realize, however, that the temperature of a substance is not a measure of its heat content, but rather, the average kinetic energy of its molecules resulting from their motions.

 

Try This!

Below is a 6-ounce cup with hot water and a 12-ounce cup with hot water at the same temperature.

  1. Do they have the same heat content?
  2. Do they have the same amount of energy?

Instructions: Click the play button to obtain a magnified view of what is happening. Draw your conclusions, enter your answer in the text field provided and then click the "Check" button to check your answer.

 

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