1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Entropy decrease of a rock

  1. Apr 11, 2017 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A hot rock ejected from a volcano's lava fountain cools from 1100º C to 40.0º C and its entropy decreases by 950 J/K. How much heat transfer occurs from the rock? (Source: OpenStax "College Physics for AP Students", Chapter 15.6)

    2. Relevant equations
    I used the equation ΔSh + ΔSc = ΔStotal, where h and c are the hot and cold states of an object, respectively.
    ΔS=Q/T, where Q is joules and T is temperature Kelvin.

    3. The attempt at a solution
    Using the equation, we plug in the variables:
    -Qh/Th + Qc/Tc = -950
    I set Qh=Qc
    -Q/1373 + Q/313 = -950
    Solving this equation, I got Q = 3.9 x 105 Joules

    However the correct answer is 8.01 x 105 J
    My answer is incorrect. What did I do wrong?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2017 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    ΔS=ΔQ/T only applies for small ΔQ, ΔS. As each ΔQ is lost, the temperature changes.
  4. Apr 11, 2017 #3


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    Hello and welcome to PF!
    I took a quick look at that section of the text
    It appears that you are using a formula that applies to the specific case of a Carnot cycle. That's not what you are dealing with in this problem.

    This formula applies to cases where the object's temperature remains constant while heat is added or removed, as in the example in the "Order to Disorder" subsection. Again, this is not what you are dealing with in this problem (as already pointed out by @haruspex). Unfortunately, the text does not appear to explain or give any example of finding the entropy change for an object that changes its temperature while heat is added or removed. This generally requires calculus. The textbook's answer is an approximate result in which you treat the object as having a constant temperature equal to the average of the initial and final temperatures. What do you get for Q if you use ΔS=Q/T where T is the average temperature?
  5. Apr 11, 2017 #4
    @TSny I used your method and got the following:

    The average of the two temperatures is 843 K.
    I then plugged into the formula ΔS=Q/T, with ΔS=950 and T=843.
    950 = Q/843
    Q = 800850 = 8.01 x 105 J

    Thank you!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2017
  6. Apr 11, 2017 #5
    If the correct formula for ##\Delta S## is used (rather than the approximate formula in your reference based on the average of the two temperatures), the correct answer is 6.96 x 105 J/K
  7. Apr 11, 2017 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    That's using ##\Delta S=\Delta Q\frac{\ln(T_f)-\ln(T_i)}{T_f-T_i}##, right? I get 6.8 x 105 J/K.

    For an approximate answer, I believe it would be better to use the geometric mean of the temperatures than the arithmetic mean. But why approximate?
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
  8. Apr 11, 2017 #7
    Sorry. Arithmetic error. 6.8 is right.

    The correct mean to use, as evidenced by your equation, is what we engineers call the log-mean.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted