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The body provides us with an excellent indication that many thermodynamic processes are irreversible . An irreversible process can go in one direction but not the reverse, under a given set of conditions. For example, although body fat can be converted to do work and produce heat transfer, work done on the body and heat transfer into it cannot be converted to body fat. Otherwise, we could skip lunch by sunning ourselves or by walking down stairs. Another example of an irreversible thermodynamic process is photosynthesis. This process is the intake of one form of energy—light—by plants and its conversion to chemical potential energy. Both applications of the first law of thermodynamics are illustrated in [link] . One great advantage of conservation laws such as the first law of thermodynamics is that they accurately describe the beginning and ending points of complex processes, such as metabolism and photosynthesis, without regard to the complications in between. [link] presents a summary of terms relevant to the first law of thermodynamics.

Part a of the figure is a pictorial representation of metabolism in a human body. The food is shown to enter the body as shown by a bold arrow toward the body. Work W and heat Q leave the body as shown by bold arrows pointing outward from the body. Delta U is shown as the stored food energy. Part b of the figure shows the metabolism in plants .The heat from the sunlight is shown to fall on a plant represented as Q in. The heat given out by the plant is shown as Q out by an arrow pointing away from the plant.
(a) The first law of thermodynamics applied to metabolism. Heat transferred out of the body ( Q size 12{Q} {} ) and work done by the body ( W size 12{W} {} ) remove internal energy, while food intake replaces it. (Food intake may be considered as work done on the body.) (b) Plants convert part of the radiant heat transfer in sunlight to stored chemical energy, a process called photosynthesis.
Summary of terms for the first law of thermodynamics, ΔU=Q−W
Term Definition
U size 12{U} {} Internal energy—the sum of the kinetic and potential energies of a system’s atoms and molecules. Can be divided into many subcategories, such as thermal and chemical energy. Depends only on the state of a system (such as its P size 12{P} {} , V size 12{V} {} , and T size 12{T} {} ), not on how the energy entered the system. Change in internal energy is path independent.
Q size 12{Q} {} Heat—energy transferred because of a temperature difference. Characterized by random molecular motion. Highly dependent on path. Q size 12{Q} {} entering a system is positive.
W size 12{W} {} Work—energy transferred by a force moving through a distance. An organized, orderly process. Path dependent. W size 12{W} {} done by a system (either against an external force or to increase the volume of the system) is positive.

Section summary

  • The first law of thermodynamics is given as Δ U = Q W size 12{ΔU=Q - W} {} , where Δ U size 12{ΔU} {} is the change in internal energy of a system, Q size 12{Q} {} is the net heat transfer (the sum of all heat transfer into and out of the system), and W size 12{W} {} is the net work done (the sum of all work done on or by the system).
  • Both Q size 12{Q} {} and W size 12{W} {} are energy in transit; only Δ U size 12{ΔU} {} represents an independent quantity capable of being stored.
  • The internal energy U size 12{U} {} of a system depends only on the state of the system and not how it reached that state.
  • Metabolism of living organisms, and photosynthesis of plants, are specialized types of heat transfer, doing work, and internal energy of systems.

Conceptual questions

Describe the photo of the tea kettle at the beginning of this section in terms of heat transfer, work done, and internal energy. How is heat being transferred? What is the work done and what is doing it? How does the kettle maintain its internal energy?

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Questions & Answers

Suppose that a grandfather clock is running slowly; that is, the time it takes to complete each cycle is longer than it should be. Should you (@) shorten or (b) lengthen the pendulam to make the clock keep attain the preferred time?
Aj Reply
discuss under damped
Prince Reply
resistance of thermometer in relation to temperature
Ifeanyi Reply
that resistance is not measured yet, it may be probably in the next generation of scientists
Is fundamental quantities under physical quantities?
Igwe Reply
please I didn't not understand the concept of the physical therapy
John Reply
physiotherapy - it's a practice of exercising for healthy living.
what chapter is this?
this is not in this book, it's from other experiences.
please I have probably with calculate please can you please and help me out
John Reply
What is Boyce law
Sly Reply
how to convert meter per second to kilometers per hour
grace Reply
Divide with 3.6
multiply by (km/1000m) x (3600 s/h) -> 3.6
2 how heat loss is prevented in a vacuum flask
Abdullah Reply
what is science
logical reasoning for a particular phenomenon.
I don't know anything about it 😔. I'm sorry, please forgive 😔
due to non in contact mean no conduction and no convection bec of non conducting base and walls and also their is a grape between the layer like to take the example of thermo flask
dimensions v²=u²+2at
Lagben Reply
what if time is not given in finding the average velocity?
Alan Reply
the magnetic circuit of a certain of the flux paths in each of the long and short sides being 25cm and 20cm reprectielectrove. there is an air gap of 2mm long in one the long sides if a flux density of 0.8weber/m is to produce in the magnet of 1500 turns..
Daniel Reply
How do you calculate precision
Sacky Reply
what module is that?
Chemisty 1A?
No it has something to do with measurements bro... What we did today in class
Tah bra honestly I didn't understand a thing in that class..when re your Tutorials?
Friday bro... But the topics we did are in this app... Just try to master them quickly before the test dates... Are you done with the Maths sheet
I eat ass
I'll work on the maths sheet tomorrow bra @Sacky Malyenge but I'll try mastering them
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There are very large numbers of charged particles in most objects. Why, then, don’t most objects exhibit static electricity?
Bilkisu Reply
Because there's an equal number of negative and positive charges... objects are neutral in nature
when a ball rolls on a smooth level ground,the motion of its centre is?
Mary Reply
what is electro magnetic field?
electromagnetic field is a special type of field been produced by electric charges..!!! like the word electro from Electricity and the word magnetic from Magnetism.. so it is more of a join field..!!!
Electromagnetic field is caused by moving electric charge
when a ball rolls on a smooth level ground,the motion of its centre is?
Practice Key Terms 3

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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