Is Heat a Substance?

Written by Anthony Bright-Paul

That's A Good Question | Plymouth Church

Is heat a substance? This is an extremely interesting question and one that all Skeptics should have up their sleeves.

I am often challenged on my knowledge of Physics and of Science in general. So, since I am writing for a scientific site, I must make a confession to all of you. I have no science whatsoever – I did not even pass General Sciences in School Certificate, as it was called years ago.

However I did find that Great Nature or the Good Lord has endowed me with a certain facility in what might be called the Dialectic. Moreover the use of questions is a great means of disarming those who cannot distinguish between Knowledge and Understanding.

So, is heat a substance? This simple question can immediately tell a Skeptic whether he is face to face with a person of Knowledge or a person of Understanding. For let us be clear that there are hordes of Scientists who have knowledge, but not too many have understanding at all.

What is the answer? Heat is defined as a transfer of kinetic energy between two systems. Hullo! What does that infer? If heat is not a substance, if heat is an abstract, if heat is a ‘transfer of kinetic energy’ all the business of heat being trapped disappears in the face of one question.

Can a Greenhouse trap heat? Clearly a Greenhouse can trap air, cold air, warm air and hot air for a time? So the air may be trapped, but is the heat trapped? Clearly, as the sun rises the temperature of the air inside also rises, and as the sun sets the temperature declines to seek equilibrium with the outside air. Ergo, the heat is not trapped and can never be trapped, because it is not a substance.

With one simple question, the whole of Greenhouse Gas theory is dispelled. The Greenhouse Gases are supposed to trap heat and cause Anthropogenic Global Warming. Here is a quotation from https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/

That’s because greenhouse gases are trapping heat in the lower atmosphere.

Sorry, NASA. Greenhouse Gases cannot possible trap a transfer of kinetic energy in the Lower Atmosphere. That would be just a nonsense and is an example of some knowledge but no understanding. Heat cannot be trapped, either in the Lower or Upper or Middle atmosphere.

What is the Lower Atmosphere anyway? I have had to look this up – it means the Troposphere. Why did they not say so in the first place?

The Troposphere is about 12 miles high for most of us who live in Europe or America, or about 23,000 feet if you are a pilot. I hear from friends of mine in Australia that they are suffering from unusually high temperatures, while my friends in Canada and the USA report severe cold.

Are we seriously to believe from this that the Lower Atmosphere is warming? So here is another question. Is there one single temperature in the Lower Atmosphere, more rightly called the Troposphere, which is 12 miles high? Even those scientists who have a lot of knowledge, but perhaps not too much understanding must know that there are millions of different temperatures in this vast area, constantly changing at 3,600 times an hour!

A greenhouse can trap a substance, but it cannot trap heat. A greenhouse on occasions may trap a bird or even a fox – my conservatory did – but it can never trap heat.

So here is the final question: Can a Greenhouse Gas trap heat as NASA avers?

Lord, save me from the harpies for even daring to suggest such a question.


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Comments (12)

  • Avatar

    Squidly

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    BOOM!

    Finally, someone spells this out. “Heat” is not a “thing” !!! .. “Heat” is a result. You cannot transfer “heat” from one place to another, you can only transfer energy. “Heat” is a result of that “energy”.

    You cannot “trap” heat, you cannot “pile” heat, you cannot “move” heat, you can only “observe” heat.

    The so-called “greenhouse effect” is D.O.A. !!!

    • Avatar

      Fennsitter

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      Agree, Squidly. It’s another example of sloppy science, really, akin to the constant naming of CO2 as carbon, and a pollutant!

    • Avatar

      Vladimir Zhivanevskaya

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      https://scied.ucar.edu/longcontent/greenhouse-effect

      When someone says heat is “trapped” they mean it is prevented from radiating elsewhere.
      It’s like when you use a lid when boiling water, or when you put hot drinks in a thermos, or when you cover your food with foil to stop it from cooling off as fast.

      In this way, greenhouse gases, like CO2, prevent heat (in the form of infrared radiation) from being radiated back into space.

      It’s not a bad thing inherently–it’s why the side of Earth not facing the Sun doesn’t freeze at night, like it does on Mercury (which has barely any atmosphere)–but as with most things, an overabundance can be a serious problem.

      It’s called the greenhouse effect because of how it acts like a greenhouse. Visible light from the Sun is absorbed by the Earth and radiated back out as infrared radiation (we use this type of radiation to create thermal images, and in weather services to create heat maps). Some of that radiation is then absorbed by greenhouse gases and “trapped” here in Earth’s atmosphere, keeping us warm.

      So if you have more gases that trap heat (infrared radiation) then the Earth gets warmer.

  • Avatar

    Al Shelton

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    And… CO2 being a gas, when it absorbs IR it heats up; expands and rises. Agree?
    Therefore, CO2 in the atmosphere is a coolant. IMO.

    • Avatar

      Squidly

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      Actually, CO2 does not heat up when it absorbs IR because it instantaneously re-emits that IR. And that is why it is a “coolant”, the most widely used industrial coolant in the world in fact. It is a “coolant” because it has extremely high emissivity to IR.

      Interesting factoid, virtually all ice skating rinks in north America use CO2 to freeze the ice for their rinks, saving them almost 40% in energy costs.

  • Avatar

    Jl

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    If the trop is12 statute miles high, that would be about 63,000 ft, not 23,000 ft.

  • Avatar

    Judy

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    Thank you for that nice easily understandable description. I am going to forward it to the local Canberra Skeptics group. Some of them scoff at PSI and think they know so much more. But, let’s see if the scoffers are game to comment here.

  • Avatar

    Squidly

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    I am disappointed that it has taken this long for someone to publish finally publish this simple fact. For years and years and years I have listen to people blather on and on about “heat”, all the while treating “heat” as if it were a basketball or something. It has been painfully obvious to me that a great number of so-called “scientists” have absolutely no freaking clue what “heat” really is.

    Hat tip to Anthony Bright-Paul for writing this up, and hat tip to John O’Sullivan and PSI for finally publishing on this topic .. it is about time!

    Thank you !!!

  • Avatar

    tom0mason

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    “Joules, could I have 2″x4″ of heat please, oh, sorry you’ve gone metric, so that would be 2½ litres of warming then.”
    🙂

    Yep heat is just one expression of energy. Warming is increase in heat flux?
    The fact that we humans can feel heat, warming, cooling and not say the energy transmitted by radio waves at say 198 kcycles/sec (cycles/second is so much more explanatory than Hertz ever is!) apparently makes all the difference (or so the cAGW crowd tells me).

  • Avatar

    Judy

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    I withdraw my comment about scoffers if any of the Canberra group post the comments they have sent to me by email on this website. There are some very knowledgeable people in the Canberra group.

  • Avatar

    Judy

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    I withdraw my comment about scoffers if any of the Canberra group post the comments they have sent to me by email on this website. There are some very knowledgeable people in the Canberra group.

  • Avatar

    Colin Davidson

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    “Heat” is a term which should be avoided in scientific discussions if at all possible.
    In common experience, when we say something is “hot” we generally mean that there is energy transfer to us from the object – as when we get out of a chill wind into cold water and it feels warm because energy is being transferred from the water into our skin.
    People use the term Heat to describe the energy content of something, but also use it to describe energy transfer (heat a kettle). In the former case the correct scientific term is Enthalpy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enthalpy . In the latter, Energy Transfer.

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