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Heat capacity hypothetical

  1. May 23, 2008 #1
    Suppose there were two containers on a table, each containing a liquid with equal temperature (relatively high), density, viscosity, and volume (1-5 L). One liquid, however, has a much higher heat capacity than the other.

    If forced to choose a liquid and have it poured over you, which one would you choose?

    Would it be more favorable to choose the high heat capacity liquid because it would retain its heat better and transfer less of the energy to you; or would the low heat capacity liquid be less painful because the heat would more easily disperse into the air and transfer less of the energy to you?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2008 #2

    Hootenanny

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    Generally the higher the energy content of a liquid the more severe the skin burns, so you would want to chose the liquid which has the lowest energy.
     
  4. May 24, 2008 #3
    The lower a liquid's heat capacity, the lower its energy (all else being equal)?
     
  5. May 25, 2008 #4

    Hootenanny

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    Correct. The heat capacity of a substance relates a change in temperature to the energy required to make that change, therefore assuming that both liquids started at the same temperature and that no phase changes occurred, then the liquid with lower heat capacity will have the least energy.
     
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