How Are Temperature and Thermal Energy Different?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 26, 2020 8:33:53 AM ET
Scot Nelson/CC-BY-SA 2.0

The difference between temperature and thermal energy is that temperature measures the average kinetic speed of molecules and thermal energy is the total kinetic energy of all particles in a given substance. In other words, temperature measures the average speed of movement, and thermal energy measures the mass of a substance. Both temperature and thermal energy are made by the movement of particles.