Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Annoying Units of Heat Capacity

Now that thank you letters are off the desk, and I have promised myself to quit nail-biting, it is time to return to science-blogging. 

My favorite formats are short-form. I like three minute songs, one-page poems, books that say less rather than more, the twitter 140 character limit, and single-page nuggets-o-science.

I am working on several papers describing the high pressure and temperature thermal properties of materials. To generate useful, quantitative thermodynamic quantities I need to be able to manipulate the heat capacity. This is more easily said than done. The first step of most scientific calculations is to understand the units. This is especially tricky for heat capacity. Here is a one-pager defining heat capacity, and examining the units.

Future one-pagers will describe the actual behavior of the heat capacity. Thankfully for most planetary-interior applications, high temperature approximations hold. 

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