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B Question about heat.

  1. Apr 29, 2017 #1
    I was thinking about fire last night and a question came to mind. Probably easy, but I'm not sure of the answer.

    Is heat the cause or effect of atoms vibrating?

    For heat to be hot, the atoms must be vibrating fast,but at the same time for atoms to vibrating fast they must be hot.

    I know I'm going to face palm, but I need to stop thinking about it.Hence the post.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2017 #2


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    Heat is technically a particular way of transferring energy from one system to another. Wikipedia's article gives a good description:

    So touching a cold object to a warmer object transfers energy to the colder object through conduction, and this transfer of energy is called heat. It's a bit different than the use of the word in everyday language.

    Given the above description of heat, it would probably be more appropriate to say that heat causes atoms to either vibrate more or less than they were prior to the transfer of energy to or from the object. Heat raises or lowers the temperature of an object and temperature is a measure of an object's internal energy. One of the ways this energy is stored in the object is in the vibration, rotation, and other random motions of its atoms and molecules. Adding or removing energy will alter how much these atoms and molecules move about.
  4. Apr 29, 2017 #3
    Thank you
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