What is Heat?

A science and physics lesson on what heat is and how our knowledge of heat debunks the pseudoscientific field of climate science.

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29 Responses to What is Heat?

  1. Brilliant as usual. 💯

  2. Marshall Rosenthal says:


  3. CD Marshall says:

    Just linked this to a clown, perfect timing for his comment and excellent performance btw. Need more MIT level lectures , which I had just watched one on superposition prior to your video popping up.

  4. On a layman’s level the lattice shown in the presentation can be visualised as objects in motion and the collective rate of motion of all the atoms within it as a depiction of the structure’s temperature. Heat, then, becomes the difference in the rates of motion within two objects. A slow object thus cannot make a faster object go faster. This also transfers to the phenomenon of light which we can visualise as the various rates of motion of the atoms/electrons from the object the light came from and that only if they contain higher (faster, more violent, intense, etc, etc) states of motion than the object they connect with can they cause the atoms within it to increase to a more intense state themselves.

  5. Joseph E Postma says:

    Yah after I finished I realized I forgot some of those sorts of comments. Oh well.

    Maybe I’ll do a follow up.

  6. CD Marshall says:

    Someone was trying to use that argument at PSI saying a smaller object moving faster runs into a larger object it is transferring its energy to the largest object…Or something to that point of cold can transfer energy to a hotter object or something like that can’t find the original comment anymore.

    So I said if a smaller object is moving faster and collides into the larger object it has more kinetic energy, thus it is still a transfer of higher to lower not a hot object receiving “heat” from a colder object.

    …And still energy can transfer both ways, they were obfuscating the correct terminology for heat on purpose as per the usual climate clown advocate.

  7. CD Marshall says:

    I really need a very good explanation for Hydrostatic Balance of the Earth. Yes i get the just of it, but I really want a better explanation than the one I’ve been getting. They seem to be “fumbling” with a coherent physics explanation.
    The Hydrostatic Balance keeps the atmosphere from collapsing and/or dissipating out to space thus it is a very precarious balance, but it is not thermal equilibrium or accredited to the ghge.

  8. Kev-In-ZA says:

    Fantastic practical instruction on Internal Energy, Heat and Work. Nicely done Joe. Even though I have studies advanced Heat Transfer and Thermodynamics as part of engineering degree, I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed instruction on how all the DOFs in the object and all the resulting vibrational mods and energy levels end up making up the Planck Function of the emission. Beautiful mathematical function emerging out of random vibration of gazillions of electrically charged particles moving within associated electro-magnetic fields. I still need to spend time understanding the QM and emission theory for my own edification.

    Not sure if you are going to do a follow on to this talking about the primary heat transfer modes between objects of matter, and also how they are somewhat two sides of the same heat-transfer coin (action though close contact vs action at a distance)

  9. arfurbryant says:

    Over fifty years ago a British comedy duo made this short song which says it all. I urge you to listen all the way through. Fabulous and exactly what Joe is talking about…!

  10. arfurbryant says:

    A better link?

  11. Zelator says:

    Lol Excellent Arfur

  12. Herb Rose says:

    Hi Joe,
    The comment CD was referring to was mine. When a moving object is struck from behind by an object with more velocity (traveling in the same direction) the velocity (energy) of the moving object will increase even if the striking object has less kinetic energy (less mass). Since temperature is a measurement of kinetic energy, not energy, a cooler object can add heat to a hotter object.
    In the atmosphere O2 and N2 are absorbing energy (uv) from the sun. This is what causes O2 molecules to split forming oxygen atoms, N2O, and ozone at different altitudes in the atmosphere. Because this energy is being absorbed the uv light decreases as it comes to the surface of the Earth but O2 and N2 (because of their bond length) will continue to absorb energy whenever uv light strikes them. Since there is no lattice structure between gas molecules they do not distribute energy (except during collision and by radiation) to a neighboring molecules as is don in solids and liquids. The few molecules in the colder atmosphere contain more energy (have greater velocity) but less mass than the molecule lattice forming the surface of the Earth and are able to transfer energy to it.

  13. Kev-In-ZA says:

    @arfurbryant, what a brilliant fine. I think the essence of the 2LoT got lost when they generalized to entropy can never decrease, and that completely lost the practical meaning that anyone can understand.

  14. But as I said in the video Herb, temperature is not energy nor is it merely a “measure” of kinetic energy. Temperature is energy flux density as can be seen via the Steffan Boltzman Law F = sT^4, or the internal thermal energy equation dU = mCpdT => dT = dU/m/Cp which shows that temperature is about energy normalized to mass and its efficiency at holding internal energy.

    And so in fact, the smaller mass moving faster has higher kinetic energy density, thus it speeds up the heavier slower mass.

    Nice try, but as always, these arguments will only ever be used by me for physics education…not reality inversion.

  15. boomie789 says:

    Made a meme

  16. Barry says:

    Thanks for this Joseph it has really helped me as a layperson to visualize how this thing works and why cold doesn’t make hot hotter. I totally believe in established thermal dynamic principles but have trouble trying to explain the basics to others. Having this simple diagram makes it so easy to explain without having your grasp of it. Keep up the great work.

  17. Zelator says:

    Lol Boomie that reminds me of Roddy Piper in “They Live” PUT THE GLASSES ON !!!! See the Truth!!

  18. arfurbryant says:

    The reason for posting the Flanders and Swann video is to question, if two public school educated musicians can so clearly understand the Laws of Thermodynamics seventy years ago, why can’t modern-day ‘climate scientists’ do the same today?

  19. Philip Mulholland says:

    Herb Rose,

    You write

    When a moving object is struck from behind by an object with more velocity (traveling in the same direction) the velocity (energy) of the moving object will increase

    You are mixing terms in a glorious kaleidoscope of nonsense; it would greatly help your understanding of science if you applied dimensional analysis.
    Velocity has dimensions LT^-1 and is measured in metres per second whereas Energy has dimensions ML^2T^-2 and is measured in Joules.

    even if the striking object has less kinetic energy (less mass).

    Glorious nonsense: Kinetic Energy has dimensions ML^2T^-2 whereas Mass has dimensions of well just M.

    Since temperature is a measurement of kinetic energy, not energy,

    You are now saying that kinetic energy with dimensions ML^2T^-2 is not energy with dimensions ML^2T^-2. You have excelled yourself.

    a cooler object can add heat to a hotter object.

    A cold object cannot power a hot object, but I guess that concept completely eludes you.

  20. Philip Mulholland says:

    In reply to arfurbryant
    Galaxy Song – Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

  21. arfurbryant says:

    Brilliant. Thanks for reminding me!😉

  22. Philip Mulholland says:

    Following on from Joe’s comment:
    “The internal thermal energy equation dU = mCpdT => dT = dU/m/Cp which shows that temperature is about energy normalized to mass and its efficiency at holding internal energy.”
    I have been trying to find out more about Enthalpy.
    This website has some very useful explanation pages:

  23. CD Marshall says:

    I looked up “The first Law of Thermodynamics in terms of enthalpy” at MIT I got this…Didn’t really help.

    dU = dQ – dW (for any process, neglecting DKE and DPE)

    dU = dQ – pdV (for any quasi-static process, no DKE or DPE)

    H = U + pV therefore dH = dU + pdV + Vdp

    so dH = dQ – dW + pdV + Vdp (any process)


    dH = dQ + Vdp (for any quasi-static process)

  24. CD Marshall says:
  25. Kev-In-ZA says:

    @Philip Mulholland: I’m a little rusty on my thermodynamics, but Enthalpy (H) in practical terms is Internal Energy (U) plus the Pressure x Volume (pV). Enthalpy is a slightly more complete measure of the the “energy” state of some matter. Since you can get Work out of Pressure acting over Distance (think steam engine, pressurized tyre blow-out, etc), and when you have high temperature gas as the working fluid in a process cycle, you can generate pressure to do work. Hence, Enthalpy is a key practical thermodynamic property for some process analysis.

    I’m not sure, but I don’t think it is of much use for climate physics beyond the altitude temperatures-pressure lapse rate, but you can get that without invoking Enthalpy.

    Hope that helps a bit.

  26. Michael says:

    It feels to me, as a layman who seeks to learn more on this subject, that the concept of heat transfer being put forth by Mr. Postma makes perfect sense in the context of our every day lives. The idea that a cooler object can add heat to a warmer object is asinine. It seems that alarmists want to simply complicate what should be a simple explanation in order to mislead. Or maybe they are that dense. My physics education ends at high school level and this, at a base level, makes sense even to me.

  27. Michael – You are exactly correct: it is asinine, they are complicating it all beyond comprehension and reason, it is all very misleading, but I don’t know if it all because they are malicious or stupid – I believe it is both.

    Thanks for the support! It does all make sense. Science does make sense. What these people are doing makes no sense at all though.

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