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Published by Charles Lee
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Published by: Charles Lee on Dec 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/05/2012

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PHYxxxx Everyday Physics Boiling an Egg
1
Boiling an Egg
Consider a spherical homogeneous egg of specific heat capacity
c
, density
, thermal conductivity
 and radius
a
(all constants). Its initial temperature is
egg
, and it is cooked by immersion in water attime
=
0
which keeps the surface temperature constant at
water
thereafter.
The Thermal Diffusion Equation
A spherical shell of material, radius
<
a
and thickness
r
, has a radial thermal resistance
 R
andtotal heat capacity
given by
=
4
r
2
c
r
and
 R
=
r
4
r
2
. (1,2)Conservation of energy requires that, in terms of these quantities,
Tr
+
r
,
( )
"
Tr
,
( )
=
 
Q r
,
( )
 Rr
,
( )
(3)
Tr
,
+
( )
"
Tr
,
( )
[ ]
=
 
Q r
"
r
,
( )
"
 
Q r
,
( )
[ ]
(4)and taking limits as
"
0
and
"
0
gives
d
r
d
 R
r
"
 
#
 
$
 
%
 
&
 
'
 =
4
r
2
r
"
 
#
 
$
 
%
 
&
 
'
 =
 
Q r
,
( )
andd
d
r
"
 
#
 
$
 
%
 
&
 
'
 =
4
c
r
2
"
 
#
 
$
 
%
 
&
 
'
 =
 
Q
r
"
 
#
 
$
 
%
 
&
 
'
 
(5,6)and therefore, eliminating the radial heat flux
Q
,
rr
2
r
"
 
#
 
$
 
%
 
&
 
'
 =
0
r
2
a
2
"
 
#
 
$
 
%
 
&
 
'
 
where
0
=
c
a
2
(7)which is a special case of the thermal diffusion equation.
Solving the Diffusion Equation
The solution to equation 7 is found with an expansion in spherical waves of wave number
r
,
( )
=
 B
r
exp
i
"
kr
[ ]
( )
(8)which must satisfy equation 7,
i.e.
 
!
r
2
2
=
0
r
2
a
2
i
( )
$
r
,
( )
=
 B
r
exp
!
ikr
( )
exp
!
2
a
2
0
( )
. (9,10)The physically significant solutions are real and must also be finite at
=
0
so

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