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April 29th, 2015, 02:47 PM   #1
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Question Temperature as a measure of thermal energy

If temperature measures the average internal kinetic energy of an object, then how does this measure thermal energy, which is the total internal kinetic energy of an object?
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April 29th, 2015, 04:11 PM   #2
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It doesn't. A 2 kg mass with a given temperature contains twice the thermal energy of a 1 kg mass with the same temperature.
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April 29th, 2015, 05:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Country Boy View Post
It doesn't. A 2 kg mass with a given temperature contains twice the thermal energy of a 1 kg mass with the same temperature.
Okay, that makes sense. Then how do we measure thermal energy if don't do it with temperature?
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April 30th, 2015, 01:29 AM   #4
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The internal energy estimate is non-trivial because it depends on the type of medium (solid, liquid, gas, plasma). For ideal gases the internal energy can be determined using

$\displaystyle U=mc_PT$

where U = internal energy (J), m = mass of subtance (kg), c_P = heat capacity of substance (J/kg/K) and T = temperature of substance (K). It can also be used as a crude estimate for other kinds of medium.
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April 30th, 2015, 05:18 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Country Boy View Post
It doesn't. A 2 kg mass with a given temperature contains twice the thermal energy of a 1 kg mass with the same temperature.
For a given substance, yes. But if the substances are different you need to take heat capacity into account.
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