Matter & Energy


Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Heat Transfer

Heat Transfer, in physics, process by which energy in the form of heat is exchanged between bodies or parts of the same body at different temperatures. Heat is generally transferred by convection, radiation, or conduction. Although these three processes can occur simultaneously, it is not unusual for one mechanism to overshadow the other two. Heat, for example, is transferred by conduction through the brick wall of a house, the surfaces of high-speed aircraft are heated by convection, and the earth receives heat from the sun by radiation. See also Energy; Heat; Temperature.

Heat can be transferred by three processes: conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction is the transfer of heat along a solid object; it is this process that makes the handle of a poker hot, even if only the tip is in the fireplace. Convection transfers heat through the exchange of hot and cold molecules; this is the process through which water in a kettle becomes uniformly hot even though only the bottom of the kettle contacts the flame. Radiation is the transfer of heat via electromagnetic (usually infrared) radiation; this is the principal mechanism through which a fireplace warms a room.