Probably more off topic than on, but I was burning some twigs and rotten
logs, when suddenly a question arose. Probably more of a science
question. But is there really an answer?
The question is this: What are the flames made of? Yes, I know that
they are the gasses from burning wood, or from gas or oil, or anything
else that burns. These gasses mix with oxygen and burn. That is all
understood. What is not understood is what is the actual flame that we
see? They are usually yellow and orange and semi transparent. Or they
are blue from natural or LP gas and also semi transparent. They emit
light and heat. But what is the flame and why do we see it?
Maybe I'm getting too deep in my thinking about it. After all, its
called FIRE, and maybe there is no further explanation. But the flames
are real. They can be seen. Yet, what are they?
We know how the light from a lightbulb is created and florescent lights
are different than filament types, because they produce ultraviolet
light (which we can not see), but that makes the florescent particles
glow. While we can explain how light is created from light bulbs, I've
never gotten a real explanation about how fire becomes visible. Does it
also produce ultraviolet? Is there some florescent type material in the
gasses that make it glow?
And, yes, the theory of phlogiston was revised a bit.
Cooking red mercury to provide dephlogistonated air, and all.
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
2. Long: Yours was a top question of scientific research in the
18th century, thereafter believed solved and thus abandoned,
revived in the 20th century by the new technique of spectrum
analysis, currently a hot topic today in astrophysics (because
observing the flames is our chief source of data about other suns.)
A good library (and PBS TV) can help you catch up concerning this.
100 or so years ago, there was the "soda cracker" theory. That we were just
an atom in some big universe's soda cracker. The theory was met with a big,
if some what nervous laugh.
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
this sounds like one of them late night bar room conversations.
"Imagine if our whole universe is just a speck of dust under the
fingernail of some giant being...."
remove the "not" from my address to email
On Fri, 18 May 2012 05:39:07 -0500, email@example.com wrote:
IIRC the light is caused by excited electons (or molecules?) which
iirc gain energy during the combustion. I think you should read about
quantum mechanics. Energy raises an electron to a high level and then
the level drops again, not gradually, but by one (or sometimes more?)
quanta iiuc, and when it drops, it give off light. Of course the next
question is again, Why?.
This applies to chemical, incandescent, and fluoresent light, iiuc.
It seems every time a question gets answered, it leaves another
question sthat isn't answered.
IIRC, I think the size of the quantum is determined by the material
that is burning, and that determines the color of the flame.
They use a spectrometer to find the various colors of light coming
from stars and maybe non-stars, and the mixutre and percentage of
colors is what they use to announce what those things are made of.
As you just explained, the process has to do with electrons being
excited from one energy level to another and dropping back.
At one level there is more energy than at the other level.
Since energy is neither created or destroyed, the change in energy
level must be accounted for. What happens is that a photon (a unit
of light) gets emitted or absorbed.
When you see a flame you are seeing photons being emitted.
The phrase "solar energy" already has another meaning.
The energy being released is due to the chemical reaction of
oxidation. It's true that the tree grew using photosynthesis
which is also a chemical reaction due to sunlight. So ultimately
the energy did come from the sun.
The heat doesn't disappear, it gets diluted in the environment
so you don't notice it anymore.
Photons on the other hand, just keep going until they meet another atom
with electrons at a lower energy level that can absorb them.
If they don't do that...well, you can see stars billions of miles away.
Photons, once released, instantly start moving at the speed of light
and have no problem traveling immense distances.
All of this is explained in overwhelming detail at Wikipedia.
Ummm, I was taught that burning is oxidation, such as C + O gives CO, CO2,
etc. In releasing carbon from the organic compounds in wood and combining
with oxygen no net mass changes are made. All of the wood matter plus the
oxygen weigh exactly the same as all of the combustion products combined.
The generation of new bonds between C, H, S, whatever and oxygen constitute
"exo-thermic" reactions, i.e. generating heat and thereby also light
photons of various wavelengths, visible and infrared, but nothing close to
Xrays or gammarays.
E=mc^2 refers to nuclear reactions where mass and energy are
interconverted, mostly matter into energy. This generates vastly greater
quantities of energy than mere burning.
Wrong. Chemical bonds have mass. You've obviously not heard of E=mc^2?
Nope. See above. The resultant mass is less than the mass going in, by, you
guessed it, E=mc^2.
Light is light; energy is energy. The wavelength doesn't matter. It's just a
matter of magnitude. Give that you've never come across Einstein, I suppose
you haven't heard of Max Planck, either: E=h*nu (energy = constant *
Energy isn't created out of thin air (well...) in a chemical reaction, either.
I suggest you go back and study high school physics. E=mc^2 is not just a
On Sun, 20 May 2012 00:00:02 -0500, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
This is one more example of "In a closed sytem, entropy is always
Entropy is a measure of the disorganization of the system. Before
the fire, the energy and mass we're talking about was all located in
the wood. After the fire, the energy has one every which way, some
being absorbed by the things the light hits, some by the ground under
the fire, some by the air above the fire, and most of all that
continues to dispers. The mass, mostly carbon and other elements,
dispurses to a C02 and maybe some CO.
I guess the only thing that increases the orgianization of the earth
is the sun, but the sun is becoming disorganized as its energy goes
off in all driections.
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