One characteristic or property of all solids and liquids is something called the Specific Heat, abbreviated as Cv. This quantity represents the amount of heat required to raise or lower a given quantity (a gram or a Kilogram) by one degree. Water has an extremely high Specific Heat (1 calorie per gram per degree C). A rule of thermodynamics (the study of heat and heat transfer) is that when two objects are placed in contact, they will eventually reach thermal equilibrium. Energy (heat is a measure of energy in a substance) flows from the warmer object or liquid to the cooler one until they both reach the same temperature (equilibrium). When we mix liquids, this rule must be obeyed.
Dr. Russell Harkay
Keene State College
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Dr. J.R. Harkay author ofPhenomenal Physics for providing this student inquiry activity. Adapted from "The Seven Percent Solution: Mixing," an Inquiry Exercise by J. R. Harkay. See www.PhenomenalPhysics.comfor more information on the complete Guided Inquiry Curriculum.