Wednesday, 26 February 2014 11:12



Additional Info

  • ID Code: I2-12
  • Purpose: Show radiation from a cold object
  • Description: If you put a hot object at the focus of one of the concave parabolic mirrors and a thermal probe at the focus of the other mirror, heat from the hot object will heat up the probe, yielding a temperature rise of the thermometer. (Compare the top and center pictures above.) If you put something very cold at the first focus, the temperature will drop. (Compare the top and bottom pictures above.) This demands a rather different explanation - blackbody radiation emitted by all objects - than the rather simple explanation given in the case of the hot object.

    This experiment demands the proper explanation in terms of blackbody radiation emitted by all objects, not just "hot" objects. The historical struggle of physicists to deal with this is documented in an interesting article by Hasok Chang, Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at University College, University of London, entitled Rumford and the Reflection of Radiant Cold: Historical Reflections and Metaphysical Reflexes, in Physics in Perspective Volume 4 Issue 2 (2002), pp 127-169.

    Note that this experiment uses materials from I5-51 and L3-16. If you want to use those demonstrations in the same class, be sure to discuss logistics with Lecture-Demonstration staff in advance.

  • Availability: Available
  • Loc codes: I2, I0, I5, L3
Read 740 times Last modified on Friday, 08 September 2017 16:35
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