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Conduct an experiment involving the three mechanisms of heat loss - conduction, convection and radiation - I intend to discover which factor affects temperature the most, and which affects it the least.

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Introduction

Physics:

Mechanisms of heat loss

Aim:

In this investigation, I intend to conduct an experiment involving the three mechanisms of heat loss – conduction, convection and radiation. I intend to discover which factor affects temperature the most, and which affects it the least.

Plan:

I will take 5 plastic cups, and cover each in different combinations of insulation (see fig. 1).

I will heat water with a kettle, and pour carefully into the cups. Every minute I will take the temperature of each cup, for 20 minutes. To keep this a fair test, I must ensure that I begin the timer at the same temperature for each cup, that each cup is measured at equal intervals (1 every minute) and that the amount of water within each cup (15ml) is the same.

...read more.

Middle

48

20

37

41

45

45

48

Fig. 3

Time (mins)

Cup 1

Cup 2

Cup 3

Cup 4

Cup 5

1

60

60

59

60

60

2

57

57

57

57

58

3

55

55

55

56

57

4

54

54

54

55

56

5

52

53

53

54

55

6

50

52

52

53

54

7

48

51

51

52

53

8

47

52

50

51

52

9

45

50

49

40

52

10

44

49

48

49

51

11

42

48

48

48

51

12

41

46

47

48

51

13

40

45

47

47

50

14

40

43

46

47

50

15

39

43

46

47

50

16

37

42

46

46

49

17

37

41

45

45

49

18

36

40

45

45

48

19

36

40

44

46

49

20

36

40

44

46

49

Fig. 4

Time (mins)

Cup 1

...read more.

Conclusion

Fig. 6

Total Heat Loss After 20 mins For Each Heat Loss Mechanism

Convection

Radiation

Conduction

Experiment 1

7

8

8

Experiment 2

9

10

9

Experiment 3

12

11

11

Average Heat Loss

9.4

9.7

9.4

In conclusion, the statistics seem to imply that most heat is lost through radiation, and that conduction and convection provide equal amounts of heat loss.

Evaluation:

Further accuracy could have been induced by stirring the water, to heat evenly, and by using a digital thermometer. Larger cups or amounts of water would have cooled more slowly, and given better results.

My final averages were too close to really draw up any meaningful conclusion. With differences of less then 0.3o its difficult to imagine any significance in them.

My investigation could have been extended, and included a wide range of insulators. More repetitions of the experiment would give me more representative averages.

...read more.

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