Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Physics Thought Experiment

Consider the scenario illustrated by the following diagram:


There is a hot object initially at temperature T. The hot object is instantly teleported into a larger container, which contains a perfect vacuum and has a perfectly reflective inner surface. The closed container is perfectly reflective at all frequencies.

Assume that the container is magically suspended in the larger container. As the container contains a perfect vacuum, no heat is lost by conduction or convection. Heat can hence only be lost by radiation.

Does the final temperature of the hot object depend on the size of the larger container?

2 comments:

Pandemonium said...

Yes. If you take the quantum point of view, you have those little adorable photons leaving the object and reabsorbed after some time. The size of the container will determine the number of photons hanging around in empty space, and the number of photons will determine the temperature of the object.

The Negative Man said...

Indeed, that was what I thought.