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Heat, Temperature, and Thermal Energy Transfer

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Thermal Transfer By Convection
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Thermal Transfer By Convection

Credit: SCEhardt
Source: http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Convection_demo_with_radiator_and_papers.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The image above shows papers that are mysteriously rising up in the air. This is due to the heater (seen above) being at a greater temperature than the surrounding room. Due to the difference in temperature, convection currents are created. These currents are able to generate enough lift to cause sheets of papers to rise up in the air, as seen in the picture.

Why It Matters

Credit: Brian Snelson
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32659528@N00/5232144638
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Lava flowing in volcanoes is an example of convection [Figure2]

  • Convection is the transfer of heat through the movement of a fluid. The fluid that acts as the medium for the transfer of heat could either be a liquid or a gas. The process of heat transfer by a fluid can be further broken down into two different types:
    • Natural Convection: The heat transfer via fluid is a result from the differences in density.
    • Forced Convection: The fluid that is transferring heat is moved by an external force.
  • There are several examples in nature that are made possible by the transfer of heat via convection such as, wind, movement of lava in volcanoes, and even ocean currents.
  • Other examples of convection are:
    • Hot air rising.
    • Heat transfer via a radiator in a room.
    • The surface of the sun.
  • Learn more about convection currents and the other possible methods of heat transfer below:


Test What You Know

Using the information provided above, answer the following questions.

  1. Explain why the melting of butter on a piece of toast is not an example of convection.
  2. If you were an astronaut in the middle of space, would the heat you feel from the sun be a result of convection?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: SCEhardt; Source: http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Convection_demo_with_radiator_and_papers.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Brian Snelson; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32659528@N00/5232144638; License: CC BY-NC 3.0


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