What is “heat” exactly? What are we referring to? The Wikipedia page on heat is unsure. On the left the scientists use the verb “to heat” depicting the transfer of thermal energy from one thing to another, but on the right the flashy photo describes “heat from the sun” as though “heat” were a thing to be passed. Dictionary.com uses heat as a verb 5 times and 20 times as a noun. This post will not be about cop shows, basketball or the sexual state of animals. I want to talk about “heat” the stuff, warmness- you’re walking in the blizzard toward home because you know there will be “heat” in there.

We commonly like to talk about both hot and cold as being things, but really, cold is just the absence of heat and hot is an abundance. Heat as a thing I suppose is thermal energy- not to be confused with hotness, which is a part of our sensory experience. The amount of thermal energy is what determines how hot or cold the object feels to our senses. So how does thermal energy work? Basically, the hotter matter is, the more vibration it has at the molecular level. This vibration is thermal energy. More energy, the more they dance, the hotter it feels. When objects of differing temperatures come into contact, the energy flows toward the object with less thermal energy, heating it up. The energy in the hotter object is likewise reduced as it flows into the colder object. When you grab a cold steering wheel thermal energy is sucked out of your hands into the wheel’s heat sink.

Of course you can force the transference of thermal energy mechanically. Air conditioners and Refrigerators are actually just heaters. They create an artificial heat vacuum which sucks the thermal energy out of the cold side of the unit. You’ll notice that anything that creates cool air is blasting hot air out its back side. Most of that heat was removed from the air on the cold side. It doesn’t add cool air to your apartment, it removes heat.

So heat is one of those wishy washy relativistic things. We’re always going to need to set up an arbitrary scale to talk about it- there are several poor examples. With Celsius they took the freezing of water as zero, but now we’re forced to use negatives all the time. Kelvin is a better attempt, zero is set on the absence of thermal energy. But surely one day they will discover some sort of negative energy which can act as a vacuum for energy without actually acquiring any of it and we’ll be back to using negatives. Kelvin also awkwardly uses the integers determined from Celsius, dividing the difference between freezing and boiling water by 100 doesn’t really have any relevance to absolute zero. . . .Fahrenheit is, well, based on donkey breath or something I’m sure.

As stuff gets hotter it usually turns from solid to liquid to gas. Heating a solid, the molecules vibrate against each other, growing stronger they free from their bonds to one another and become a liquid. When the liquid becomes hot enough and the energy is bursting, they bust loose further from the bonds of the object itself and become a gas.

Your heat. No one is burning coal in your stomach, there is no electron flow through metal coils in your ears. There are some bio-chemical reactions going on which regulate heat- these get out of hand when you have a fever. But for the most part, your heat is coming from friction. The human body has almost 100000 kilometres of blood vessels. Blood is heavy duty coarse stuff- its even got iron in it. Now if you were to pull a rope through a metal pipe the friction would generate heat right? Your heart is basically pulling a coarse iron rich rope through 100000km of pipe. When your heart gets really going, it starts pulling that rope faster generating more heat. Its like rubbing your hands together to stay warm all over your body inside and out everywhere constantly.

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10 Responses to “Heat”

  1. Jules Cosby Says:

    Remi was quizzical;
    Studied metaphysical
    Science in his home

    Great post, Rem-Rem. The only thing that I would add would be a talk about the weatherman. Recently a guy who came here from Africa was asking me why we say:

    “Well folks, it’s going to be 5 degrees, but don’t get the golf clubs out yet, because it’s going to be -40 degrees with the WINDCHILL. Over to you Diane”

    Why don’t we just SAY it’s -40? Is it because ‘meteorologists’ have such a spurious claim to ‘science’ that they feel they need to use an already existing scale to play with?

    Maybe a universal argument could be made: you wouldn’t want to have one scale here, another one there. But then, back to our American friends, they still have their ass-backwards scale and they’re the leaders of the world.

    And of course the same principle applies to the humidex in the summertime, except for the hidden normative blindfolding that goes on behind the numbers. Much the same way that geography books in school don’t show pollution, or urban blight, or things of those nature, the humidex doesn’t mention just how shitty the air is: only that it is a higher temperature.

    But hey, don’t think i’m nit-picking too much. I LOVED this snow-free, warmish November. I say keep it up!

  2. remistevens Says:

    Really?! A pic of the stones in front of a naked woman and you’ve got nothing to say? I figured that would be right up your alley!

    You do get some added info from the weatherman’s 2 number report. If you’re going outside, but not in the wind, its useful. But i have no idea where they get the “feels like” equation from. Who the fuck are they to judge? -5 with high winds feels shittier than a calm -5. Does it feel as shitty as -40 calm? Well, -5 windy doesn’t feel the same as -40 calm; they’re 2 completely different things. But some joker must have come up with the shittiness algorithm.

    I think the idea is don’t bog people down with two many scales and figures. We could get a fairly good scientific report with wind vector, humidity and temp- but then we’re forced to do the math ourselves. I just want a quick report from the supposed expert. I would also be content if they replaced the current scale with this one:

    Super hot
    pretty hot
    luke warm
    super cold
    really fucking cold

    with the prefixes/suffixes

    heavy rain
    light rain
    really humid
    so dry
    snowing a lot
    not really snowing, but a bit
    tornado warning

    Or if I’m in a real hurry and i know what season it is:

    Not Bad
    Really Shitty

  3. ponch58 Says:

    “as matter becomes hotter, the molecules vibrate” NITPICK NITPICK

    This is backwards. The more molecules move, the hotter they become.

    Don’t you love when people correct meaningless mistakes?

    Love the music track in this one. A very natural bass sound.

    • remistevens Says:

      Not quite man, see this is where “heat” gets really tricky. The vibrations aren’t caused by heat, they are the heat. I think for the laymans sake, physicists just call it “vibration”, but its not actually shaking about in the sense that we understand the word.

      It would be like saying making the car go forward causes the wheels to turn, but, making the wheels turn will cause the car to go forward. One is necessary to the other, they are both part of the whole. I know there is a proper definition for this type of relationship, but i can’t remember what it is. Where’s Jules when you need him?

      The really low bass note is really cranked up. I think it was almost out of my audible sensory range, so i made it loud. Now listening on my laptop speakers i can hear absolutely no bass!

      You’re clearly still winning, why can’t you just go!!!

    • remistevens Says:

      You know what though, it is a little unclear. I’m going to swap it for “the hotter matter is, the more vibration it has at the molecular level”.

      • ponch58 Says:

        Actually, it should read. “the more vibration it has at the molecular level, the hotter it becomes” It is the vibration that creates the heat.

    • remistevens Says:

      Nope, not that kind of vibration M- did you read my reply? Its not friction.

  4. Jules Cosby Says:

    You know what? I noticed the Stones before, but I didn’t even see the chick until you mentioned her. I think it’s about time to head back down to Colorado. Looks like I didn’t pray the gay away enough last time.

    I’m not convinced that it would be a symbiotic relationship, except maybe exclusively at the level of concepts. Definitely non-linear. But the car analogy is pretty solid.

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