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nonmechanical energyenergy,
in physics, the ability or capacity to do work or to produce change. Forms of energy include heat, light, sound, electricity, and chemical energy. Energy and work are measured in the same units—foot-pounds, joules, ergs, or some other, depending on the system of
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 in transit, associated with differences in temperaturetemperature,
measure of the relative warmth or coolness of an object. Temperature is measured by means of a thermometer or other instrument having a scale calibrated in units called degrees. The size of a degree depends on the particular temperature scale being used.
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 between a system and its surroundings or between parts of the same system.

Measures of Heat

Temperature is a measure of the average translational kinetic energy of the molecules of a system. Heat is commonly expressed in either of two units: the caloriecalorie,
abbr. cal, unit of heat energy in the metric system. The measurement of heat is called calorimetry. The calorie, or gram calorie, is the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of pure water 1°C;.
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, an older metric unit, and the British thermal unitBritish thermal unit,
abbr. Btu, unit for measuring heat quantity in the customary system of English units of measurement, equal to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water at its maximum density [which occurs at a temperature of 39.
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 (Btu), an English unit commonly used in the United States. Scientists express heat in terms of the joulejoule
, abbr. J, unit of work or energy in the mks system of units, which is based on the metric system; it is the work done or energy expended by a force of 1 newton acting through a distance of 1 meter. The joule is named for James P. Joule.
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, a unit used for all forms of energy.

Specific Heat

As heat is added to a substance in the solid state, the molecules of the substance gain kinetic energy and the temperature of the substance rises. The amount of heat needed to raise a unit of mass of the substance one degree of temperature is called the specific heatspecific heat,
ratio of the heat capacity of a substance to the heat capacity of a reference substance, usually water. Heat capacity is the amount of heat needed to change the temperature of a unit mass 1°.
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 of the substance. Because of the way in which the calorie and the Btu are defined, the specific heat of any substance is the same in either system of measurement. For example, the specific heat of water is 1 calorie per gram per degree Celsius; i.e., 1 calorie of heat is needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius; it is also 1 Btu per pound per degree Fahrenheit.

Heat of Fusion

When a solid reaches a certain temperature, it changes to a liquid. This temperature is a particular property of the substance and is called its melting pointmelting point,
temperature at which a substance changes its state from solid to liquid. Under standard atmospheric pressure different pure crystalline solids will each melt at a different specific temperature; thus melting point is a characteristic of a substance and can be used
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. While the solid-liquid transition is taking place, there is no change in temperature. All of the heat being added is being converted to the internal potential energy associated with the liquid state. The amount of heat needed to convert one unit of mass of a substance from a solid to liquid is called the heat of fusion, or latent heat of fusion, of the substance. Like specific heat, latent heatlatent heat,
heat change associated with a change of state or phase (see states of matter). Latent heat, also called heat of transformation, is the heat given up or absorbed by a unit mass of a substance as it changes from a solid to a liquid, from a liquid to a gas, or the
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 is also a property of the particular substance. The latent heat of fusion for the ice-to-water transition is 80 calories per gram.

Heat of Vaporization

After a substance is completely changed from a solid to a liquid, further addition of heat again causes the temperature to rise until it reaches the boiling pointboiling point,
temperature at which a substance changes its state from liquid to gas. A stricter definition of boiling point is the temperature at which the liquid and vapor (gas) phases of a substance can exist in equilibrium.
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, the particular temperature at which the given substance changes from a liquid to a gas. During the liquid-gas transition, the temperature remains constant until the change is completed. The heat of vaporization, or latent heat of vaporization, is the heat that must be added to convert one unit of mass of the substance from a liquid to a gas.

Transfer of Heat

Heat may be transferred from one substance to another by three means—conductionconduction,
transfer of heat or electricity through a substance, resulting from a difference in temperature between different parts of the substance, in the case of heat, or from a difference in electric potential, in the case of electricity.
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, convectionconvection,
mode of heat transfer in fluids (liquids and gases). Convection depends on the fact that, in general, fluids expand when heated and thus undergo a decrease in density (since a given volume of the fluid contains less matter at a higher temperature than at the
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, and radiationradiation
, term applied to the emission and transmission of energy through space or through a material medium and also to the radiated energy itself. In its widest sense the term includes electromagnetic, acoustic, and particle radiation, and all forms of ionizing radiation.
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. Conduction involves the transfer of energy from one molecule to adjacent molecules without the substance as a whole moving. Convection involves the movement of warmer parts of a substance away from the source of heat and takes place only in fluids, i.e., liquids and gases. Radiation is the transfer of heat energy in the form of electromagnetic radiationelectromagnetic radiation,
energy radiated in the form of a wave as a result of the motion of electric charges. A moving charge gives rise to a magnetic field, and if the motion is changing (accelerated), then the magnetic field varies and in turn produces an electric field.
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, principally in the infrared radiationinfrared radiation,
electromagnetic radiation having a wavelength in the range from c.75 × 10−6 cm to c.100,000 × 10−6 cm (0.000075–0.1 cm).
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 portion of the spectrum.

Study and Analysis of Heat

The study of heat and its relationship to useful work is called thermodynamicsthermodynamics,
branch of science concerned with the nature of heat and its conversion to mechanical, electric, and chemical energy. Historically, it grew out of efforts to construct more efficient heat engines—devices for extracting useful work from expanding hot gases.
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 and involves macroscopic quantities such as pressure, temperature, and volume without regard for the molecular basis of these quantities. Low-temperature physicslow-temperature physics,
science concerned with the production and maintenance of temperatures much below normal, down to almost absolute zero, and with various phenomena that occur only at such temperatures.
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 is concerned with phenomena that occur at extremely low temperatures. The analysis of heat on the basis of the structure of matter is considered in the kinetic-molecular theory of gaseskinetic-molecular theory of gases,
physical theory that explains the behavior of gases on the basis of the following assumptions: (1) Any gas is composed of a very large number of very tiny particles called molecules; (2) The molecules are very far apart compared to their sizes,
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 and provides an explanation for the various gas lawsgas laws,
physical laws describing the behavior of a gas under various conditions of pressure, volume, and temperature. Experimental results indicate that all real gases behave in approximately the same manner, having their volume reduced by about the same proportion of the
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. The gas laws in turn serve to define an absolute temperature scale based on theoretical considerations (see Kelvin temperature scaleKelvin temperature scale,
a temperature scale having an absolute zero below which temperatures do not exist. Absolute zero, or 0°K;, is the temperature at which molecular energy is a minimum, and it corresponds to a temperature of −273.
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See M. C. Mott-Smith, Heat and Its Workings (1933, repr. 1962); R. Becker, Theory of Heat (tr. 1967).


For the purposes of thermodynamics, it is convenient to define all energy while in transit, but unassociated with matter, as either heat or work. Heat is that form of energy in transit due to a temperature difference between the source from which the energy is coming and the sink toward which the energy is going. The energy is not called heat before it starts to flow or after it has ceased to flow. A hot object does contain energy, but calling this energy heat as it resides in the hot object can lead to widespread confusion. See Energy, Internal energy, Temperature, Thermodynamic principles



a sensation of excessive warmth, usually confirmed by elevation of body temperature. Heat may be felt by some persons without a rise of body temperature; this can be caused by functional disturbances of the nervous system or by the introduction of certain medications (for example, nicotinic acid, magnesium sulfate, and calcium chloride) that cause dilatation of the blood vessels. Local sensation of heat can result from arterial hyperemia, a change in blood circulation, and increased metabolism in inflamed tissues.


Energy in transit due to a temperature difference between the source from which the energy is coming and a sink toward which the energy is going; other types of energy in transit are called work.


The form of energy that is transferred by virtue of a temperature difference between two bodies, the transfer being from the warmer to the cooler body.


a. the energy transferred as a result of a difference in temperature
b. the random kinetic energy of the atoms, molecules, or ions in a substance or body
2. the sensation caused in the body by heat energy; warmth
3. a period or condition of sexual excitement in female mammals that occurs at oestrus
4. Sport
a. a preliminary eliminating contest in a competition
b. a single section of a contest
5. on or in heat
a. (of some female mammals) sexually receptive
b. in a state of sexual excitement
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The problem was that, after the first tape appeared, NPR heatedly denied it had considered accepting the donation.
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I have a job to do and I get paid monthly to do it by the Republic," the officer replied heatedly.
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After losing the case, some state officials heatedly demanded an appeal - but that will not happen.
Even though the Lithuanian Conservatives were the ones delegating Usackas to the post, many opposed him heatedly, relying on Lithuanian values and reproaching the lack of them in the foreign politics of Lithuania.
Examining French art during the years of Nazi occupation, she says, requires raising questions about responsibility for the entire process, the nature of totalitarianism, and historiographical and political issues that have been debated heatedly in Germany but not in France for a long time.
The issue has become one of the most heatedly discussed items on the global agenda, even though the proportion of gas crossing international borders is far lower than that of oil (28% and 58%, respectively).