Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fun with thermodynamics

Admittedly, the thought experiment I'm about to tell you about is simply explained by thermodynamics. Despite this, I puzzled over it for a while since it is very counter-intuitive, at least to me.

Suspend a weight from an elastic band so it is stretched (only slightly) beyond its equilibrium point. Now, heat the band with a hair dryer. Does the weight move up or down?

Give up? It moves upward. Do you know why?

I plan to verify this experimentally at some point.