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Thermal Physics

Thermal physics deals with the internal energy of objects due to the motion of the atoms and molecules comprising the objects, as well as the transfer of this energy from object to object, known as heat.

The internal energy of an object, known as its thermal energy, is related to the kinetic energy of all the particles comprising the object. The more kinetic energy the constituent particles have, the greater the object’s thermal energy.


  1. Calculate the temperature of an object given its average kinetic energy.
  2. Calculate the linear and volumetric expansion of a solid as a function of temperature.
  3. Explain heat as the process of transferring energy between systems at different temperatures.
  4. Calculate an object’s temperature change using its specific heat.
  5. Determine the energy required for a material to undergo a phase change.
  6. Utilize the ideal gas law to solve for pressure, volume, temperature, and quantity of an ideal gas.
  7. Describe the zeroth, first, second, and third laws of thermodynamics.
  8. Utilize PV diagrams to describe changes in ideal gas conditions.
  9. Analyze adiabatic, isobaric, isochoric, and isothermal processes using both algebraic and graphical methods.

Topics of Study

  1. Temperature
  2. Thermal Expansion
  3. Heat
  4. Phase Changes
  5. Ideal Gas Law
  6. Thermodynamics