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Energy in a Vacuum?

  1. Dec 27, 2009 #1
    Suppose you have an absolute vacuum, with zero particles, and its container is made of a conductive material, like a metal or something, which is heated. What happens inside the vacuum?

    Does heat need the medium of air, or will it heat the vacuum? I reason that heat needs a medium (like air particles) to permeate because the particles vibrate, transferring the energy that is registered as heat, but this doesn't seem right. I know that space isn't a perfect vacuum, but it's close enough, and heat from the sun reaches the earth. I guess what I'm ultimately wondering is, does heat (or any form of energy) need a medium to travel through, other than space?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2009 #2


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    The vacuum will not heat up. The container will radiate heat, sending EM radiation (photons) from its inside surface through the cavity to the other inside surface.

    There are many things that transfer heat. It can be passed kinetically, via particles (conduction) and it can be passed through vacuum (radiated), via photons.
  4. Dec 28, 2009 #3
    I don't my concept is clear or not.
    please clear this doubt.
    Em radiation doesn't required medium to propagate but it carries energy(e.g-light).
    as the energy is transmitted so the vaccum may be heated.
  5. Dec 28, 2009 #4
    The energy is transmitted to what?Generally there's air which vibrates
    However,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_energy" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Dec 28, 2009 #5
    how would we know if the vacuum heats up or not?
    doesn't vacuum mean there is nothing there. If there is nothing there, what would heat up?
  7. Dec 28, 2009 #6
    I think Dave explained what would happen
  8. Dec 28, 2009 #7


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    EM radiation passes through the vacuum. If there is nothing in the vacuum for the EM radiation to affect, then it will not be heated.
  9. Dec 29, 2009 #8
    The OP, in respectful rebutal might ask...(OK, my words, sorry)

    Are virtual particles affected by non-virtual EM radiation?
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