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How much thermal energy does the copper absorb?
Question Date: 2018-12-04
Answer 1:

Copper cannot absorb and store that much thermal energy. If you wanted to boil a liter of water, it would take 10 times as much energy as it would to heat the same amount of copper to the same temperature! This is because copper has a much lower "heat capacity" than water. Copper will also heat up quickly because it has a high "thermal conductivity" which means heat can pass quickly from the outside to the inside. In fact, the thermal conductivity of copper is 800 times larger than that of water.

If you were to put a block of copper and a pot of water on your stove, the top of the copper would heat up much faster than the top of the water for two reasons:
1) it needs less thermal energy to change temperature (lower heat capacity) and
2) the heat can transfer from the bottom to the top of the copper faster (higher thermal conductivity).


Answer 2:

The specific heat of copper is 0.385 J/(g oC). This means that it takes 0.385 Joules of energy (about 0.08 of a calorie) to heat a gram of copper by one degree Celsius.

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