What is “heat” exactly? What are we referring to? The Wikipedia page on heat is unsure. On the left the scientists use the verb “to heat” depicting the transfer of thermal energy from one thing to another, but on the right the flashy photo describes “heat from the sun” as though “heat” were a thing to be passed. Dictionary.com uses heat as a verb 5 times and 20 times as a noun. This post will not be about cop shows, basketball or the sexual state of animals. I want to talk about “heat” the stuff, warmness- you’re walking in the blizzard toward home because you know there will be “heat” in there.
We commonly like to talk about both hot and cold as being things, but really, cold is just the absence of heat and hot is an abundance. Heat as a thing I suppose is thermal energy- not to be confused with hotness, which is a part of our sensory experience. The amount of thermal energy is what determines how hot or cold the object feels to our senses. So how does thermal energy work? Basically, the hotter matter is, the more vibration it has at the molecular level. This vibration is thermal energy. More energy, the more they dance, the hotter it feels. When objects of differing temperatures come into contact, the energy flows toward the object with less thermal energy, heating it up. The energy in the hotter object is likewise reduced as it flows into the colder object. When you grab a cold steering wheel thermal energy is sucked out of your hands into the wheel’s heat sink.
Of course you can force the transference of thermal energy mechanically. Air conditioners and Refrigerators are actually just heaters. They create an artificial heat vacuum which sucks the thermal energy out of the cold side of the unit. You’ll notice that anything that creates cool air is blasting hot air out its back side. Most of that heat was removed from the air on the cold side. It doesn’t add cool air to your apartment, it removes heat.
So heat is one of those wishy washy relativistic things. We’re always going to need to set up an arbitrary scale to talk about it- there are several poor examples. With Celsius they took the freezing of water as zero, but now we’re forced to use negatives all the time. Kelvin is a better attempt, zero is set on the absence of thermal energy. But surely one day they will discover some sort of negative energy which can act as a vacuum for energy without actually acquiring any of it and we’ll be back to using negatives. Kelvin also awkwardly uses the integers determined from Celsius, dividing the difference between freezing and boiling water by 100 doesn’t really have any relevance to absolute zero. . . .Fahrenheit is, well, based on donkey breath or something I’m sure.
As stuff gets hotter it usually turns from solid to liquid to gas. Heating a solid, the molecules vibrate against each other, growing stronger they free from their bonds to one another and become a liquid. When the liquid becomes hot enough and the energy is bursting, they bust loose further from the bonds of the object itself and become a gas.
Your heat. No one is burning coal in your stomach, there is no electron flow through metal coils in your ears. There are some bio-chemical reactions going on which regulate heat- these get out of hand when you have a fever. But for the most part, your heat is coming from friction. The human body has almost 100000 kilometres of blood vessels. Blood is heavy duty coarse stuff- its even got iron in it. Now if you were to pull a rope through a metal pipe the friction would generate heat right? Your heart is basically pulling a coarse iron rich rope through 100000km of pipe. When your heart gets really going, it starts pulling that rope faster generating more heat. Its like rubbing your hands together to stay warm all over your body inside and out everywhere constantly.
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