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Thermal Physics
 
Aim: to measure the Specific Heat Capacity of Water
Before starting... pretend you don't know the value of the specific heat capacity of water!
See specific heat capacity, electrical power and energy
 
Method
The diagram below shows a calorimeter suitable for use in experiments of this type.
A calorimeter is simply an insulated container for the water (often made of aluminium), with a stirrer to evenly distribute the energy.
A thermometer and balance will also be needed... but then, you'd guessed that hadn't you?
Find the quantity of energy needed to produce a measured temperature change in a known mass of water.
Use the ammeter and voltmeter (together with a stop-watch) to find the quantity of electrical energy put into the heater.
Prepare a table for the results before you start.
Write the results needed in the order that they will be measured (see here for my suggestion).
 
A couple of points to keep in mind:
1. An electric heater is 100% efficient.
  This means that the quantity of thermal energy given out is equal to the electrical energy put in.
2. As you heat the water you are, of course, also heating the calorimeter. 
  If  the calorimeter is made from a good conductor, we can assume that at all times during the experiment, it has the same temperature as the water.
  You will therefore need to know the specific heat capacity of the material of which the calorimeter is made (and, of course, its mass).
Use the principle of conservation of energy to obtain an expression from which the specific heat capacity of water can be calculated.
 
Do the experiment as many times as you can in the time available using different masses of water.
 
The temperature changes involved should not be less than (about) 10C but not more than (about) 30C.
Why are there these limitations?
 
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