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expansion, in physics, increase in volume resulting from an increase in temperature. Contraction is the reverse process. When heat is applied to a body, the rate of vibration and the distances between the molecules composing it are increased and, hence, the space occupied by the body, i.e., its volume, increases. This increase in volume is not constant for all substances for any given rise in temperature, but is a specific property of each kind of matter. For example, zinc and lead undergo greater expansion in a one-degree rise in temperature than do silver or brass. Since solids have a definite shape, each linear dimension of the solid increases by a proportional amount for a given temperature increase. The amount that a unit length along any direction of a substance increases for a temperature increase of one degree is called the coefficient of linear expansion of the substance. Most liquids also expand when heated. However, since liquids do not have a definite shape, it is the expansion of their volume as a whole that is relevant rather than the increase in a linear dimension. The amount of expansion that a unit volume (e.g., a cubic centimeter or a cubic foot) of any substance undergoes per one-degree rise in temperature is called its volume coefficient or coefficient of cubical expansion and is listed as a property of that substance. The coefficient of linear expansion can be calculated by dividing the coefficient of cubical expansion of the substance by three. When the amount of expansion of a given length of a substance has been determined experimentally, the linear coefficient is calculated by dividing the total amount of expansion by the product of the original number of length units and the number of degrees of rise in temperature. Gases also exhibit thermal expansion. The coefficient of expansion is about the same for all the common gases at ordinary temperatures; it is 1-273 of the volume at 0℃ per degree rise in temperature. The Kelvin, or absolute, scale is based upon this behavior (see Kelvin temperature scale). Charles's law concerning the expansion of gases states that the volume of a gas is directly proportional to its absolute temperature (see gas laws). Liquids differ from each other as do solids in their expansion coefficients. Water, unlike most substances, contracts rather than expands as its temperature is increased from 0℃ to 4℃; above 4℃ it exhibits normal behavior, expanding as the temperature increases.
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A process in which the effective gain of an amplifier is varied as a function of signal magnitude, the effective gain being greater for large signals than for small signals; the result is greater volume range in an audio amplifier and greater contrast range in facsimile.
The expression of a quantity as the sum of a finite or infinite series of terms, as a finite or infinite product of factors, or, in general, in any extended form.
Increase in volume of working material with accompanying drop in pressure of a gaseous or vapor fluid, as in an internal combustion engine or steam engine cylinder.
Process in which the volume of a constant mass of a substance increases.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The increase in length or volume of a material, or a body, caused by temperature, moisture, or other environmental condition.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
a. the form of an expression or function when it is written as the sum or product of its terms
b. the act or process of determining this expanded form
2. the part of an engine cycle in which the working fluid does useful work by increasing in volume
3. Physics the increase in the dimensions of a body or substance when subjected to an increase in temperature, internal pressure, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005