2. Temperature, heat and pressure

Zeroth law of thermodynamics: Defining thermal equilibrium

The zeroth law of thermodynamics defines thermal equilibrium within an isolated system. The zeroth law says when two objects at thermal equilibrium are in contact, there is no net heat transfer between the objects; therefore, they are the same temperature. Another way to state the zeroth law is to say that if two objects are both separately in thermal equilibrium with a third object, then they are in thermal equilibrium with each other.

The zeroth law allows us to measure the temperature of objects. Any time we use a thermometer, we are using the zeroth law of thermodynamics. Let’s say we are measuring the temperature of a water bath. In order to make sure the reading is accurate, we usually want to wait for the temperature reading to stay constant.

We are waiting for the thermometer and the water to reach thermal equilibrium! At thermal equilibrium, the temperature of the thermometer bulb and the water bath will be the same, and there should be no net heat transfer from one object to the other (assuming no other loss of heat to the surroundings).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *