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Re: [Phys-l] operational definition on heat

Does anyone have a good operational definition on heat?
By the way, some students have difficulty understanding "heat is a verb".

Besides the good suggestions made by others, I think this is a textbook
problem, where the text definition disagrees with common usage. Some
curricula are willing to give up the heat as a verb, and use the more
colloquial definition. And of course all the way through elementary, and
even into high school the word heat has been used as a synonym for thermal
energy. Textbooks do not generally acknowledge that language has ambiguity.
The big problem with texts is that they present physics as a fixed body of
concepts, rather than presenting it as a succession of models which are
changed as you discover new things.

One solution is instead to use the word "heating" which ties the idea to a
fairly definite verb. Then of course the other thing one might want to do
is to instead of saying "doing work" say working. The big problem comes in
when students do calculations and calculate work, or heat. They then
visualize this as a quantity of something that you have rather than the
amount of a transaction.

I think there is a good argument for doing away with some words from the
physics texts such as heat, work, or weight because of the extreme
confusion. Weight isn't even defined the same way by many authors. There
are at least 3 or more definitions some of which are contradictory.

John M. Clement
Houston, TX