Q:

What is thermal energy?

A:

Thermal energy is the energy that a system or object possesses due to the random movement of its particles. When more particles are present, there is more movement, which results in more thermal energy.

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The smallest particles of any object, atoms and molecules, are constantly in motion. This random motion results in thermal energy, also known as internal kinetic energy. The higher the number of particles in an object, the greater the amount of movement of the particles, which generates a greater amount of thermal energy and a higher temperature, resulting in a greater level of heat transfer, according to the University of California, Davis.

It is important to note that while thermal energy is dependent on the temperature of an object, it is not the same as heat. Thermal energy is the sum of all the kinetic energies in the object, while heat on the other hand results from a flow of thermal energy from an object of a higher temperature to one of a lower temperature.

There are several practical, everyday applications of thermal energy. For example, people use thermal energy to heat their homes and cook food. In addition, vehicle engines convert thermal energy into mechanical energy.

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Related Questions

• A:

Thermal energy is the movement of particles within matter and is found in the sun, magma, heated water and even the human body. Heat represents the transfer of thermal energy between matter.

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• A:

The difference between temperature and thermal energy is that temperature measures the average kinetic speed of molecules and thermal energy is the total kinetic energy of all particles in a given substance. In other words, temperature measures the average speed of movement, and thermal energy measures the mass of a substance. Both temperature and thermal energy are made by the movement of particles.

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• A:

According to Georgia State University, gravitational potential energy is the energy an object possesses because of its position in a gravitational field. This is most commonly in reference to an object near the surface of the Earth, where the gravitational acceleration is assumed to be constant at about 9.8 m/s2.