Ratio of the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of a body one degree to that required to raise the temperature of an equal mass of water one degree. The term is also used to mean the amount of heat, in calories, required to raise the temperature of one gram of a substance by one Celsius degree.
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Amount of heat that must be added or removed during a chemical reaction to keep all substances involved at the same temperature. If it is positive (heat must be added), the reaction is endothermic; if it is negative (heat is given off), the reaction is exothermic. Accurate heat of reaction values are needed for proper design of equipment used in chemical processes; they are usually estimated from compiled tables of thermodynamics data (heats of formation and heats of combustion of many known materials). The activation energy is unrelated to the heat of reaction.
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Characteristic amount of energy absorbed or released by a substance during a change in physical state that occurs without a change in temperature. Heat of fusion is the latent heat associated with melting a solid or freezing a liquid. Heat of vaporization is the latent heat associated with vapourizing a liquid or condensing (see condensation) a vapour. For example, when water reaches its boiling point and is kept boiling, it remains at that temperature until it has all evaporated; all the heat added to the water is absorbed as latent heat of vaporization and is carried away by the escaping vapour molecules.
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Device for transferring heat from a substance or space at one temperature to another at a higher temperature. It consists of a compressor, a condenser, a throttle or expansion valve, an evaporator, and a working fluid (refrigerant). The compressor delivers vapourized refrigerant to the condenser in the space to be heated. There, cooler air condenses the refrigerant and becomes heated during the process. The liquid refrigerant then enters the throttle valve and expands, coming out as a liquid-vapour mixture at a lower temperature and pressure. It then enters the evaporator, where the liquid is evaporated by contact with the warmer space. The vapour then passes to the compressor and the cycle is repeated. A heat pump is a reversible system and is commonly used both to heat and to cool buildings. It operates on the same thermodynamic principles as refrigeration.
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Any of several devices that transfer heat from a hot to a cold fluid. In many engineering applications, one fluid needs to be heated and another cooled, a requirement economically accomplished by a heat exchanger. In double-pipe exchangers, one fluid flows inside the inner pipe, and the other in the annular space between the two pipes. In shell-and-tube exchangers, many tubes are mounted inside a shell; one fluid flows in the tubes and the other flows in the shell, outside the tubes. Special-purpose devices such as boilers, evaporators, superheaters, condensers, and coolers are all heat exchangers. Heat exchangers are used extensively in fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants, gas turbines, heating and air conditioning, refrigeration, and the chemical industry. Seealso cooling system.
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Ratio of heat absorbed by a material to the change in temperature. It is usually expressed as calories per degree in terms of the amount of the material being considered. Heat capacity and its temperature variation depend on differences in energy levels for atoms. Heat capacities are measured with a calorimeter and are important as a means of determining the entropies of materials. Seealso specific heat.
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Energy transferred from one body to another as the result of a difference in temperature. Heat flows from a hotter body to a colder body when the two bodies are brought together. This transfer of energy usually results in an increase in the temperature of the colder body and a decrease in that of the hotter body. A substance may absorb heat without an increase in temperature as it changes from one phase to another—that is, when it melts or boils. The distinction between heat (a form of energy) and temperature (a measure of the amount of energy) was clarified in the 19th century by such scientists as J.-B. Fourier, Gustav Kirchhoff, and Ludwig Boltzmann.
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Several different forms of energy, including, but not limited to, kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, sound energy, light energy, elastic, electromagnetic, chemical, nuclear, and mass have been defined to explain all known natural phenomena.
While one form of energy may be transformed to another, the total energy remains the same. This principle, the conservation of energy, was first postulated in the early 19th century, and applies to any isolated system. According to Noether's theorem, the conservation of energy is a consequence of the fact that the laws of physics do not change over time.
Although the total energy of a system does not change with time, its value may depend on the frame of reference. For example, a seated passenger in a moving airplane has zero kinetic energy relative to the airplane, but non-zero kinetic energy relative to the earth.
The concept of energy emerged out of the idea of vis viva, which Leibniz defined as the product of the mass of an object and its velocity squared; he believed that total vis viva was conserved. To account for slowing due to friction, Leibniz claimed that heat consisted of the random motion of the constituent parts of matter — a view shared by Isaac Newton, although it would be more than a century until this was generally accepted. In 1807, Thomas Young was the first to use the term "energy" instead of vis viva, in its modern sense. Gustave-Gaspard Coriolis described "kinetic energy" in 1829 in its modern sense, and in 1853, William Rankine coined the term "potential energy." It was argued for some years whether energy was a substance (the caloric) or merely a physical quantity, such as momentum.
He[who?] amalgamated all of these laws into the laws of thermodynamics, which aided in the rapid development of explanations of chemical processes using the concept of energy by Rudolf Clausius, Josiah Willard Gibbs, and Walther Nernst. It also led to a mathematical formulation of the concept of entropy by Clausius and to the introduction of laws of radiant energy by Jožef Stefan.
There is a fact, or if you wish, a law, governing natural phenomena that are known to date. There is no known exception to this law; it is exact, so far we know. The law is called conservation of energy; it states that there is a certain quantity, which we call energy, that does not change in manifold changes which nature undergoes. That is a most abstract idea, because it is a mathematical principle; it says that there is a numerical quantity, which does not change when something happens. It is not a description of a mechanism, or anything concrete; it is just a strange fact that we can calculate some number, and when we finish watching nature go through her tricks and calculate the number again, it is the same.| | |The Feynman Lectures on Physics
Since 1918 it has been known that the law of conservation of energy is the direct mathematical consequence of the translational symmetry of the quantity conjugate to energy, namely time. That is, energy is conserved because the laws of physics do not distinguish between different moments of time (see Noether's theorem).
The concept of energy is widespread in all sciences.
Energy transformations in the universe over time are characterized by various kinds of potential energy which has been available since the Big Bang, later being "released" (transformed to more active types of energy such as kinetic or radiant energy), when a triggering mechanism is available.
Familiar examples of such processes include nuclear decay, in which energy is released which was originally "stored" in heavy isotopes (such as uranium and thorium), by nucleosynthesis, a process which ultimately uses the gravitational potential energy released from the gravitational collapse of supernovae, to store energy in the creation of these heavy elements before they were incorporated into the solar system and the Earth. This energy is triggered and released in nuclear fission bombs. In a slower process, heat from nuclear decay of these atoms in the core of the Earth releases heat, which in turn may lift mountains, via orogenesis. This slow lifting represents a kind of gravitational potential energy storage of the heat energy, which may be released to active kinetic energy in landslides, after a triggering event. Earthquakes also release stored elastic potential energy in rocks, a store which has been produced ultimately from the same radioactive heat sources. Thus, according to present understanding, familiar events such as landslides and earthquakes release energy which has been stored as potential energy in the Earth's gravitational field or elastic strain (mechanical potential energy) in rocks; but prior to this, represents energy that has been stored in heavy atoms since the collapse of long-destroyed stars created these atoms.
In another similar chain of transformations beginning at the dawn of the universe, nuclear fusion of hydrogen in the Sun releases another store of potential energy which was created at the time of the Big Bang. At that time, according to theory, space expanded and the universe cooled too rapidly for hydrogen to completely fuse into heavier elements. This meant that hydrogen represents a store of potential energy which can be released by fusion. Such a fusion process is triggered by heat and pressure generated from gravitational collapse of hydrogen clouds when they produce stars, and some of the fusion energy is then transformed into sunlight. Such sunlight from our Sun may again be stored as gravitational potential energy after it strikes the Earth, as (for example) water evaporates from oceans and is deposited upon mountains (where, after being released at a hydroelectric dam, it can be used to drive turbine/generators to produce electricity). Sunlight also drives many weather phenomena, save those generated by volcanic events. An example of a solar-mediated weather event is a hurricane, which occurs when large unstable areas of warm ocean, heated over months, give up some of their thermal energy suddenly to power a few days of violent air movement. Sunlight is also captured by plants as chemical potential energy, when carbon dioxide and water are converted into a combustible combination of carbohydrates, lipids, and oxygen. Release of this energy as heat and light may be triggered suddenly by a spark, in a forest fire; or it may be available more slowly for animal or human metabolism, when these molecules are ingested, and catabolism is triggered by enzyme action. Through all of these transformation chains, potential energy stored at the time of the Big Bang is later released by intermediate events, sometimes being stored in a number of ways over time between releases, as more active energy. In all these events, one kind of energy is converted to other types of energy, including heat.
In classical physics energy is considered a scalar quantity, the canonical conjugate to time. In special relativity energy is also a scalar (although not a Lorentz scalar but a time component of the energy-momentum 4-vector). In other words, energy is invariant with respect to rotations of space, but not invariant with respect to rotations of space-time (= boosts).
if there are no other energy-transfer processes involved. Here is the amount of energy transferred, and represents the work done on the system.
More generally, the energy transfer can be split into two categories:
where represents the heat flow into the system.
There are other ways in which an open system can gain or lose energy. In chemical systems, energy can be added to a system by means of adding substances with different chemical potentials, which potentials are then extracted (both of these process are illustrated by fueling an auto, a system which gains in energy thereby, without addition of either work or heat). Winding a clock would be adding energy to a mechanical system. These terms may be added to the above equation, or they can generally be subsumed into a quantity called "energy addition term " which refers to any type of energy carried over the surface of a control volume or system volume. Examples may be seen above, and many others can be imagined (for example, the kinetic energy of a stream of particles entering a system, or energy from a laser beam adds to system energy, without either being either work-done or heat-added, in the classic senses).
Where E in this general equation represents other additional advected energy terms not covered by work done on a system, or heat added to it.
Energy is also transferred from potential energy () to kinetic energy () and then back to potential energy constantly. This is referred to as conservation of energy. In this closed system, energy can not be created or destroyed, so the initial energy and the final energy will be equal to each other. This can be demonstrated by the following:
The equation can then be simplified further since (mass times acceleration due to gravity times the height) and (half times mass times velocity squared). Then the total amount of energy can be found by adding .
Usually, the Lagrange formalism is mathematically more convenient than the Hamiltonian for non-conservative systems (like systems with friction).
|Type||Composition of Internal Energy (U)|
|Sensible energy||the portion of the internal energy of a system associated with kinetic energies (molecular translation, rotation, and vibration; electron translation and spin; and nuclear spin) of the molecules.|
|Latent energy||the internal energy associated with the phase of a system.|
|Chemical energy||the internal energy associated with the different kinds of aggregation of atoms in matter.|
|Nuclear energy||the tremendous amount of energy associated with the strong bonds within the nucleus of the atom itself.|
|Energy interactions||those types of energies not stored in the system (e.g. heat transfer, mass transfer, and work), but which are recognized at the system boundary as they cross it, which represent gains or losses by a system during a process.|
|Thermal energy||the sum of sensible and latent forms of internal energy.|
where the first term on the right is the heat transfer into the system, defined in terms of temperature T and entropy S (in which entropy increases and the change dS is positive when the system is heated); and the last term on the right hand side is identified as "work" done on the system, where pressure is P and volume V (the negative sign results since compression of the system requires work to be done on it and so the volume change, dV, is negative when work is done on the system). Although this equation is the standard text-book example of energy conservation in classical thermodynamics, it is highly specific, ignoring all chemical, electric, nuclear, and gravitational forces, effects such as advection of any form of energy other than heat, and because it contains a term that depends on temperature. The most general statement of the first law (i.e., conservation of energy) is valid even in situations in which temperature is undefinable.
Energy is sometimes expressed as:
which is unsatisfactory because there cannot exist any thermodynamic state functions W or Q that are meaningful on the right hand side of this equation, except perhaps in trivial cases.
This principle is vitally important to understanding the behavior of a quantity closely related to energy, called entropy. Entropy is a measure of evenness of a distribution of energy between parts of a system. When an isolated system is given more degrees of freedom (= is given new available energy states which are the same as existing states), then total energy spreads over all available degrees equally without distinction between "new" and "old" degrees. This mathematical result is called the second law of thermodynamics.
In a solid, thermal energy (often referred to loosely as heat content) can be accurately described by an ensemble of thermal phonons that act as mechanical oscillators. In this model, thermal energy is equally kinetic and potential.
In an ideal gas, the interaction potential between particles is essentially the delta function which stores no energy: thus, all of the thermal energy is kinetic.
Because an electric oscillator (LC circuit) is analogous to a mechanical oscillator, its energy must be, on average, equally kinetic and potential. It is entirely arbitrary whether the magnetic energy is considered kinetic and the electric energy considered potential, or vice versa. That is, either the inductor is analogous to the mass while the capacitor is analogous to the spring, or vice versa.
The two analyses are entirely consistent. The electric and magnetic degrees of freedom in item 1 are transverse to the direction of motion, while the speed in item 2 is along the direction of motion. For non-relativistic particles these two notions of potential versus kinetic energy are numerically equal, so the ambiguity is harmless, but not so for relativistic particles.
Work is roughly force times distance. But more precisely, it is
Work and thus energy is frame dependent. For example, consider a ball being hit by a bat. In the center-of-mass reference frame, the bat does no work on the ball. But, in the reference frame of the person swinging the bat, considerable work is done on the ball.
For example, consider electron-positron annihilation, in which the rest mass of individual particles is destroyed, but the inertia equivalent of the system of the two particles (its invariant mass) remains (since all energy is associated with mass), and this inertia and invariant mass is carried off by photons which individually are massless, but as a system retain their mass. This is a reversible process - the inverse process is called pair creation - in which the rest mass of particles is created from energy of two (or more) annihilating photons.
In general relativity, the stress-energy tensor serves as the source term for the gravitational field, in rough analogy to the way mass serves as the source term in the non-relativistic Newtonian approximation.
It is not uncommon to hear that energy is "equivalent" to mass. It would be more accurate to state that every energy has inertia and gravity equivalent, and because mass is a form of energy, then mass too has inertia and gravity associated with it.
Classical mechanics distinguishes between potential energy, which is a function of the position of an object, and kinetic energy, which is a function of its movement. Both position and movement are relative to a frame of reference, which must be specified: this is often (and originally) an arbitrary fixed point on the surface of the Earth, the terrestrial frame of reference. It has been attempted to categorize all forms of energy as either kinetic or potential: this is not incorrect, but neither is it clear that it is a real simplification, as Feynman points out:
|Mechanical energy is converted|
|Nuclear energy||Particle accelerator|
The name "potential" energy originally signified the idea that the energy could readily be transferred as work—at least in an idealized system (reversible process, see below). This is not completely true for any real system, but is often a reasonable first approximation in classical mechanics.
The general equation above can be simplified in a number of common cases, notably when dealing with gravity or with elastic forces.
Elastic potential energy is defined as a work needed to compress (or expand) a spring. The force, F, in a spring or any other system which obeys Hooke's law is proportional to the extension or compression, x,
This equation reduces to the one above it, at small (compared to c) speed. A mathematical by-product of this work (which is immediately seen in the last equation) is that even at rest a mass has the amount of energy equal to:
This energy is thus called rest mass energy.
|Thermal energy is converted|
|Mechanical energy||Steam turbine|
|Thermal energy||Heat exchanger|
|Electromagnetic radiation||Hot objects|
|Chemical energy||Blast furnace|
Thermal energy (of some media - gas, plasma, solid, etc) is the energy associated with the microscopical random motion of particles constituting the media. For example, in case of monoatomic gas it is just a kinetic energy of motion of atoms of gas as measured in the reference frame of the center of mass of gas. In case of many-atomic gas rotational and vibrational energy is involved. In the case of liquids and solids there is also potential energy (of interaction of atoms) involved, and so on.
A heat is defined as a transfer (flow) of thermal energy across certain boundary (for example, from a hot body to cold via the area of their contact. A practical definition for small transfers of heat is
Despite the theoretical problems, the above definition is useful in the experimental measurement of energy changes. In a wide variety of situations, it is possible to use the energy released by a system to raise the temperature of another object, e.g. a bath of water. It is also possible to measure the amount of electric energy required to raise the temperature of the object by the same amount. The calorie was originally defined as the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by 1 °C (approximately 4.1855 J, although the definition later changed), and the British thermal unit was defined as the energy required to heat one pound of water by 1 °F (later fixed as 1055.06 J).
|Electric energy is converted|
|Mechanical energy||Electric motor|
|Electromagnetic radiation||Light-emitting diode|
The electric potential energy of given configuration of charges is defined as the work which must be done against the Coulomb force to rearrange charges from infinite separation to this configuration (or the work done by the Coulomb force separating the charges from this configuration to infinity). For two point-like charges Q1 and Q2 at a distance r this work, and hence electric potential energy is equal to:
If an electric current passes through a resistor, electric energy is converted to heat; if the current passes through an electric appliance, some of the electric energy will be converted into other forms of energy (although some will always be lost as heat). The amount of electric energy due to an electric current can be expressed in a number of different ways:
|Electromagnetic radiation is converted|
|Mechanical energy||Solar sail|
|Thermal energy||Solar collector|
|Electric energy||Solar cell|
|Electromagnetic radiation||Non-linear optics|
|Nuclear energy||Mössbauer spectroscopy|
Electromagnetic radiation, such as microwaves, visible light or gamma rays, represents a flow of electromagnetic energy. Applying the above expressions to magnetic and electric components of electromagnetic field both the volumetric density and the flow of energy in e/m field can be calculated. The resulting Poynting vector, which is expressed as
The energy of electromagnetic radiation is quantized (has discrete energy levels). The spacing between these levels is equal to
where h is the Planck constant, 6.6260693(11)×10−34 Js, and ν is the frequency of the radiation. This quantity of electromagnetic energy is usually called a photon. The photons which make up visible light have energies of 270–520 yJ, equivalent to 160–310 kJ/mol, the strength of weaker chemical bonds.
|Chemical energy is converted|
|Electric energy||Fuel cell|
|Chemical energy||Chemical reaction|
Chemical energy is the energy due to associations of atoms in molecules and various other kinds of aggregates of matter. It may be defined as a work done by electric forces during re-arrangement of electric charges, electrons and protons, in the process of aggregation. If the chemical energy of a system decreases during a chemical reaction, the difference is transferred to the surroundings in some form (often heat or light); on the other hand if the chemical energy of a system increases as a result of a chemical reaction - the difference then is supplied by the surroundings (usually again in form of heat or light). For example,
The chemical energy as defined above is also referred to by chemists as the internal energy, U: technically, this is measured by keeping the volume of the system constant. However, most practical chemistry is performed at constant pressure and, if the volume changes during the reaction (e.g. a gas is given off), a correction must be applied to take account of the work done by or on the atmosphere to obtain the enthalpy, H:
Since the industrial revolution, the burning of coal, oil, natural gas or products derived from them has been a socially significant transformation of chemical energy into other forms of energy. the energy "consumption" (one should really speak of "energy transformation") of a society or country is often quoted in reference to the average energy released by the combustion of these fossil fuels:
Simple examples of chemical energy are batteries and food. When you eat the food is digested and turned into chemical energy which can be transformed to kinetic energy.
|Nuclear binding energy is converted|
|Mechanical energy||Alpha radiation|
|Electrical energy||Beta radiation|
|Electromagnetic radiation||Gamma radiation|
|Chemical energy||Radioactive decay|
|Nuclear energy||Nuclear isomerism|
Nuclear potential energy, along with electric potential energy, provides the energy released from nuclear fission and nuclear fusion processes. The result of both these processes are nuclei in which strong nuclear forces bind nuclear particles more strongly and closely. Weak nuclear forces (different from strong forces) provide the potential energy for certain kinds of radioactive decay, such as beta decay. The energy released in nuclear processes is so large that the relativistic change in mass (after the energy has been removed) can be as much as several parts per thousand.
Nuclear particles (nucleons) like protons and neutrons are not destroyed (law of conservation of baryon number) in fission and fusion processes. A few lighter particles may be created or destroyed (example: beta minus and beta plus decay, or electron capture decay), but these minor processes are not important to the immediate energy release in fission and fusion. Rather, fission and fusion release energy when collections of baryons become more tightly bound, and it is the energy associated with a fraction of the mass of the nucleons (but not the whole particles) which appears as the heat and electromagnetic radiation generated by nuclear reactions. This heat and radiation retains the "missing" mass, but the mass is missing only because it escapes in the form of heat and light, which retain the mass and conduct it out of the system where it is not measured. The energy from the Sun, also called solar energy, is an example of this form of energy conversion. In the Sun, the process of hydrogen fusion converts about 4 million metric tons of solar matter per second into light, which is radiated into space, but during this process, the number of total protons and neutrons in the sun does not change. In this system, the light itself retains the inertial equivalent of this mass, and indeed the mass itself (as a system), which represents 4 million tons per second of electromagnetic radiation, moving into space. Each of the helium nuclei which are formed in the process are less massive than the four protons from they were formed, but (to a good approximation), no particles or atoms are destroyed in the process of turning the sun's nuclear potential energy into light.
A minimal surface, for example, represents the smallest possible energy that a surface can have if its energy is proportional to the area of the surface. For this reason, (open) soap films of small size are minimal surfaces (small size reduces gravity effects, and openness prevents pressure from building up. Note that a bubble is a minimum energy surface but not a minimal surface by definition).
Energy can be converted into matter and vice versa. The mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc², derived by several authors: Olinto de Pretto, Albert Einstein, Friedrich Hasenöhrl, Max Planck and Henri Poincaré, quantifies the relationship between mass and rest energy. Since is extremely large relative to ordinary human scales, the conversion of ordinary amount of mass (say, 1 kg) to other forms of energy can liberate tremendous amounts of energy (~ Joules), as can be seen in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Conversely, the mass equivalent of a unit of energy is minuscule, which is why a loss of energy from most systems is difficult to measure by weight, unless the energy loss is very large. Examples of energy transformation into matter (particles) are found in high energy nuclear physics.
In nature, transformations of energy can be fundamentally classed into two kinds: those that are thermodynamically reversible, and those that are thermodynamically irreversible. A reversible process in thermodynamics is one in which no energy is dissipated (spread) into empty energy states available in a volume, from which it cannot be recovered into more concentrated forms (fewer quantum states), without degradation of even more energy. A reversible process is one in which this sort of dissipation does not happen. For example, conversion of energy from one type of potential field to another, is reversible, as in the pendulum system described above. In processes where heat is generated, however, quantum states of lower energy, present as possible exitations in fields between atoms, act as a reservoir for part of the energy, from which it cannot be recovered, in order to be converted with 100% efficiency into other forms of energy. In this case, the energy must partly stay as heat, and cannot be completely recovered as usable energy, except at the price of an increase in some other kind of heat-like increase in disorder in quantum states, in the universe (such as an expansion of matter, or a randomization in a crystal).
As the universe evolves in time, more and more of its energy becomes trapped in irreversible states (i.e., as heat or other kinds of increases in disorder). This has been referred to as the inevitable thermodynamic heat death of the universe. In this heat death the energy of the universe does not change, but the fraction of energy which is available to do produce work through a heat engine, or be transformed to other usable forms of energy (through the use of generators attached to heat engines), grows less and less.
Most kinds of energy (with gravitational energy being a notable exception) are also subject to strict local conservation laws, as well. In this case, energy can only be exchanged between adjacent regions of space, and all observers agree as to the volumetric density of energy in any given space. There is also a global law of conservation of energy, stating that the total energy of the universe cannot change; this is a corollary of the local law, but not vice versa. Conservation of energy is the mathematical consequence of translational symmetry of time (that is, the indistinguishability of time intervals taken at different time) - see Noether's theorem.
According to energy conservation law the total inflow of energy into a system must equal the total outflow of energy from the system, plus the change in the energy contained within the system.
This law is a fundamental principle of physics. It follows from the translational symmetry of time, a property of most phenomena below the cosmic scale that makes them independent of their locations on the time coordinate. Put differently, yesterday, today, and tomorrow are physically indistinguishable.
Thus is because energy is the quantity which is canonical conjugate to time. This mathematical entanglement of energy and time also results in the uncertainty principle - it is impossible to define the exact amount of energy during any definite time interval. The uncertainty principle should not be confused with energy conservation - rather it provides mathematical limits to which energy can in principle be defined and measured.
which is similar in form to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (but not really mathematically equivalent thereto, since H and t are not dynamically conjugate variables, neither in classical nor in quantum mechanics).
In particle physics, this inequality permits a qualitative understanding of virtual particles which carry momentum, exchange by which and with real particles, is responsible for the creation of all known fundamental forces (more accurately known as fundamental interactions). Virtual photons (which are simply lowest quantum mechanical energy state of photons) are also responsible for electrostatic interaction between electric charges (which results in Coulomb law), for spontaneous radiative decay of exited atomic and nuclear states, for the Casimir force, for van der Waals bond forces and some other observable phenomena.
It would appear that living organisms are remarkably inefficient (in the physical sense) in their use of the energy they receive (chemical energy or radiation), and it is true that most real machines manage higher efficiencies. However, in growing organisms the energy that is converted to heat serves a vital purpose, as it allows the organism tissue to be highly ordered with regard to the molecules it is built from. The second law of thermodynamics states that energy (and matter) tends to become more evenly spread out across the universe: to concentrate energy (or matter) in one specific place, it is necessary to spread out a greater amount of energy (as heat) across the remainder of the universe ("the surroundings"). Simpler organisms can achieve higher energy efficiencies than more complex ones, but the complex organisms can occupy ecological niches that are not available to their simpler brethren. The conversion of a portion of the chemical energy to heat at each step in a metabolic pathway is the physical reason behind the pyramid of biomass observed in ecology: to take just the first step in the food chain, of the estimated 124.7 Pg/a of carbon that is fixed by photosynthesis, 64.3 Pg/a (52%) are used for the metabolism of green plants, i.e. reconverted into carbon dioxide and heat.
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