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Re: [Phys-l] operational definition on heat

I understand "operational definition", a notion that I think was originated by Bridgman in his book "The Logic of Modern Physics" to mean that one specifies the operation by which a quantity is measured. As an example, the operational definition of distance to the moon, is 1/2 the time lapse or the r eturn af a radar pulse from the moon. It seems to me that some of the definitions offered on this thread can hardly qualify as "operational".

"Trust me. I have a lot of experience at this."
General Custer's unremembered message to his men,
just before leading them into the Little Big Horn Valley

On Sun, 13 Sep 2009, wrote:

Quoting Bernard Cleyet <>:
I thought we decided not to use that word except as a verb.

Thanks for all the responses. The usage of the word "heat" may not be
agreed by all physicists. For example, John Denker may not agree.

Interestingly, In one engineering text, the operational definition of
heat is defined via Born-Caratheodory form of the First Law of
Thermodynamics. Then one paper in the context of Chemistry, proposed
qualitative and quantitative definitions on heat. The quantitative
definition on heat can be defined, for example, with the use of

In a recent PhD Thesis on the role of language in learning physics,
the operational definition of heat is considered to be the energy
transferred between objects because of a temperature difference, and
heat is preferred to be a process. This seems inconsistent to me. If
heat is a process instead of a noun, how can it be measured? Besides,
this common textbook definition does not involve any explicit
operational procedure. How could it be categorised as operational
definition? At least, the chemists mention calorimentry.


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