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Desiree Boyd Hilliard 10A Feb. 15, 2013 Rubber Band Thermodynamics When one touches their own skin, it is generally warm. If one were to touch, say, a table, it can be noted that the temperature is constant and unchanged by the touch. Since the table or wall is being analyzed, it is categorized as the system. Everything else would be considered the systems surroundings. Anything and everything could be considered a system. Even items that are encountered daily, such as a rubber band holding together rolled up papers. It may seem uninteresting on a regular day. However, it can be looked at on a completely different scale. A simple rubber band is composed of more chains of molecules than realized. It can be noted, if placed on the skin, that the temperature of a relaxed rubber band is rather averaged with the surroundings if unchanged, as is the pressure. The molecular chains bound together making up the rubber band are rather cluttered and unkempt. They are in constant motion, as are all things composed of matter. Their vibrations are kept at about the same speed, even with other molecules from the surroundings colliding with the chains. The stored potential energy in the rubber band is rather constant as well. Now, if the rubber band was to be stretched, the different factors would be altered. As the jumbled chains of molecules are pulled apart, they become more organized. The molecules want to resist the force and work energy being done on them. When the stretched rubber band is felt on the skin, its temperature feels as though it has increased. That is not the case. As the stretched rubber band heats up, the system is giving off heat. This release is considered exothermic and that is why it feels warmer. The static potential energy transferred to moving kinetic energy as it was stretched. Since the rubber band is resting against the skin, most of the heat energy being

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given off from the stretched system is conducted into the surroundings, the skin and air. Enthalpy, or the quantity of heat energy, can be calculated. Enthalpy is equal to the amount of heat at constant pressure with no alternative work being done on the system besides volume. Since the reaction is exothermic, the enthalpy can be determined as negative. Relaxing the rubber band after stretching once again changes its characteristics. The now organized chains of molecules now are relieved of the extra stress used to restrict them. The exothermic reaction of the system is now reverted and the rubber band feels cooler after relaxation. The heat conveyed into the surroundings now reverts back into the system, the rubber band. This endothermic reaction absorbs heat from the surroundings into the system. Although it may feel cooler than before, the rubber band is actually incorporating the heat from the skin. The enthalpy can be determined as positive. These processes can be related back to the First Law of Thermodynamics. The energy being consumed by the system and the surroundings during the process was not created from the stretched chains of molecules. The heat and energy merely flowed from the rubber band to the skin and back again. It is impossible for energy to be created or destroyed. When the energy was being transferred, the energy only shifted from one place to another. Not only can rubber bands execute the processes of Thermodynamics, but also other objects in daily life through exothermic and endothermic reactions. Some examples of this could include bouncy balls or chewing gum. As a bouncy ball hits the ground, the static potential energy from the bounce is transferred upwards into kinetic energy, sending it into the air. Chewing gum causes the mouth to heat up as it is chewed. The exothermic reaction is most noticeable when a new piece is being chewed. These, among other examples, execute and can further illustrate the First Law of Thermodynamics.